ORANGE, Calif. (Feb. 24, 2015) – Junior Kc Emezie (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge) and senior Andrew Hogue (Arroyo Grande, Calif. / Arroyo Grande) led the Caltech men's basketball team in its season finale at Chapman University, which received votes in the latest d3hoops.com national poll, on Tuesday night.
The Panthers turned away an early second half rally to win, 86-64. The Beavers finish the year at 4-21 overall and 3-16 in the SCIAC, marking their best season in the conference since 1960-61. Chapman clinched the top spot in the conference with the victory, ending the regular season at 21-4 (12-4).
Hogue got things started with a three-pointer to open the scoring and Emezie tied the score at 5-5 with a big offensive board and putback with 16:41 on the clock. The Panthers scored the next seven points to go ahead, 12-5, and soon took the margin to double figures, eventually leading 41-28 at halftime.
The Beavers came out of the break on fire, rattling off a 7-2 run over the first two-and-a-half minutes to pull back within eight at 43-35. Caltech trailed by as few as 10 as late as the 7:21 mark, but Chapman finished strong to lead by a game-high 24 points before the final whistle.
"We were confident and energized at halftime," Head Coach Dr. Oliver Eslinger said. "We were feeling good and just wanted to come out, set the tone and execute more efficiently."
Emezie scored a team-high 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting while Hogue added 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting (2-of-5 beyond the arc), nine rebounds and two assists and senior Bryan Joel (Bethesda, Md. / Walt Whitman) dished out five assists and made two steals. Sophomore Matthew Edwards (Canyon Country, Calif. / Canyon) also drilled his only three-point attempt for his only points of the season.
"Kc demonstrated his high level of skill despite the defense focusing on him," Eslinger said. "Hogue and Joel were everywhere, and led us tonight as they have all year - they have been such mature and focused leaders. They came to play and make the most of every second. I could tell they were feeling the moment and soaking it in. The best part of the night was interlocking arms with them at game's end. Those two have been by my side for four years and I can't express enough appreciation and admiration for all they've done."
The Beavers won three conference games for the first time since 1960-61, equaling the program's total SCIAC wins over the previous 43 years. A number of individual marks were set as well, including Hogue joining the 500-rebound club, sophomore Lawrence Lee (Hong Kong / Hong Kong International School) setting a new program record for points in an NCAA game with 38 at George Fox University on Nov. 21 and sophomore Nasser Al-Rayes (Doha, Qatar / American School of Doha) setting a new program record for blocks. Caltech also set team records in rebounds and blocks, while finishing just 16 points shy of the scoring mark. Both Hogue and Emezie were named the SCIAC Athlete of the Week once each, with Emezie named the BennettRank Stud of the Week as well. Junior Rob Anderson (Orono, Minn. / Orono) was also named to the prestigious Allstate National Association of Basketball Coaches Good Works Team for his commitment to environmental sustainability and other projects, earning him an invitation to the Division I Men's final Four next month.
"This was just a tremendous season," Eslinger said. "We fought through adversity being a young team, and showed that we are for real. Opposing fans often told us how impressed they are with what we have done for our program over the last several weeks. It's one thing for your own to tell you, but another to hear it from strangers."