PASADENA, Calif. (Dec. 16, 2014) – Sophomore Nasser Al-Rayes (Doha, Qatar / American School of Doha) led the Caltech men's basketball team with his first career double-double as the Beavers took Transylvania University to double overtime on Tuesday evening.
Just three days after another overtime bout, the Beavers led through the majority of the game before the Pioneers rallied late and dominated the second overtime period to leave with the 93-81 victory. Transylvania improves to 2-5 overall while Caltech is now 0-7.
Transylvania shot a ridiculous 57.8 percent from the field, led by Alex Jones' 14-of-21 day for 32 points and Parker Stansberry's 8-of-11 double-double effort. Caltech hit a season-high 10 three-pointers and committed a season-low 13 turnovers but forced just 10 out of the Pioneers.
"That was a tremendous ballgame," Head Coach Dr. Oliver Eslinger said. "We put ourselves in position to score and get stops, and it just came down to better shooting."
Caltech got out to its hottest start of the season as seniors Andrew Hogue (Arroyo Grande, Calif. / Arroyo Grande) and Bryan Joel (Bethesda, Md. / Walt Whitman) combined to score the game's first eight points. Sophomore Ricky Galliani (Menlo Park, Calif. / Sacred Heart Prep) joined the party after a Transy layup, knocking down a pair of three-pointers courtesy of Joel's second and third assists in just the opening four minutes.
The Beavers looked to be in total control as they extended the margin to double digits on three occasions, playing seamlessly on offense and rotating perfectly on the defensive end. The Pioneers began to claw back into the game behind six straight points from Robert Dence and a couple of pullup jumpers by Jones, coming within two at 27-25 with 4:10 left in the half.
Junior Kc Emezie (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge) slashed his way to the rim for a layup on the next possession and sophomore Lawrence Lee (Hong Kong / Hong Kong International School) hit a mid-range jumper on another assist from Joel soon after to make it a six-point game. Hogue would sink a three with 57 seconds remaining after a Transy basket to send Caltech into the break with a seven-point lead at 34-27.
The Beavers showed no signs of letting up as the second half got underway, with Emezie driving for another layup on the opening possession as Caltech held a two-basket margin through the opening seven minutes. Jones continued to sink every pullup jumper he took for Transy, however, and the Pioneers steadily trimmed the deficit to just three points at the 13:16 mark. As the Pioneers pushed to tie things up, the Beavers continued to keep pace until six unanswered points from Transy sent the visitors ahead with 7:03 remaining in the game.
Joel immediately answered with a three-pointer and Emezie hit another layup to make it a three-point game once again, but Jones continued to hit his shots and carried the Pioneers to a 65-60 lead with just 45 seconds left to play. Emezie hit the offensive glass for the putback on the Beavers' next possession, but Jones sank both the ensuing free throws as Caltech was forced to foul with just 28 seconds left on the clock. Sophomore Luke Lango (San Diego, Calif. / Pacific Ridge School) then beat the Transy press coming out of a Pioneers timeout, driving coast-to-coast in just three seconds and drawing a foul as he rolled in a layup. He converted the and-one opportunity to bring Caltech within just two points with 25 seconds to go.
Transy missed the single bonus chance at the other end, and Hogue took over on the Beavers' final possession yet again, driving hard into the lane and drawing the foul (with Joel sinking what would have been the game-winning three-pointer after the whistle). The senior captain stepped to the line, coolly sank the first free throw and nailed the second after a Transy timeout. The Pioneers missed a deep jumper at the buzzer to send the game into extra time.
Hogue kept going strong right out of the break, drawing another foul on the Beavers' first possession and hitting both free throws, then going 1-for-2 at the charity stripe on a third straight possession. Al-Rayes got to the line after an offensive board and sank 1-of-2 himself to give Caltech a two-point lead after the first minute.
An athletic game-tying dunk at the other end turned the momentum in Transy's favor, but only briefly as Al-Rayes hit Hogue for a trey with the shot clock winding down to put Caltech back up by three points. Transy would take a one-point lead over the next two minutes, but Hogue returned the favor with an assist to Al-Rayes, who drilled a three to put the Beavers back on top, 77-75 with 1:35 left to go.
Transy missed a three on the following possession, but Emezie's layup attempt just rolled out and Transy evened things again with 22 seconds remaining. The Beavers searched for an open look on the last shot, and Lango's three attempt clanged off the rim, but a tipped rebound gave Caltech the ball back with three seconds remaining. Hogue found Joel on the wing off the inbounds pass, but Transy's Dillon Pulliam got a hand on it to record the block and send the game to a second overtime.
The Pioneers forced a turnover on the opening possession and sank their first two shots of the period, adding a free throw to take a five-point lead after two minutes. Caltech's shooting dried up, however, as the Beavers would hit only a single layup with 34 seconds remaining while Transy racked up 16 points to record the misleading final score line.
"I was so proud of our ability to make plays in such a high-intensity game," Eslinger said. "These guys are fighters. We fought back to send the game to overtime, and responded again when we went down in the first period. I wouldn't want to play against our team."
Hogue led the Beavers with 20 points, going 6-of-12 from the field and 3-of-6 beyond the arc, while Al-Rayes posted 15 points (6-of-10, 2-of-4 deep), grabbed 10 rebounds and made two blocks. Emezie finished with 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting, also dishing out four assists, while Joel netted 11 with a team-high six assists and two steals.
"Nasser was a beast tonight in what has been a breakout week for him," Eslinger said. "Hogue is one tough dude who came through when we needed that senior leadership by example again. Joel just gets it – six assists and no turnovers – and it was great to see Ricky's shooting come alive. Things are really clicking for us."
Eslinger and the Beavers will host Mt. Aloysius College (4-5) in their final game before the Winter Recess on Thursday, Dec. 18 at 5 p.m.