PASADENA (Feb. 13, 2019) – The Caltech men's basketball team hit a trio of milestones with Wednesday's 59-46 victory at the University of La Verne, completing the season sweep of the Leopards.
Wednesday's win gave the Beavers their 10th win of the season, the first time Caltech has hit double-digit wins under Head Coach Dr. Oliver Eslinger and the first time since the 1953-54 season. Caltech has only won more than 10 games on two occasions in the history of the men's basketball program. Additionally, the Beavers set the team record for single-game blocks with 10 and junior guard Alec Andrews (Folsom, Calif. / Folsom) secured the single-season assists record and now finds himself with 126 assists on the year after another six-assist game. Andrews is also the team's all-time career assist leader, meaning the junior has now secured the trifecta of single-game, single-season, and career assists records and will have his entire senior season to continue to build on the historic total.
Caltech's 10 blocks came from six different players, including its starting five, but sophomore forward Spencer Schneider (Houston, Texas / Clearbrook) led the way with three rejections. The sophomore also had his most prolific game of the season on the glass with 13 rebounds to go with 12 points in 34 minutes of action. The Beavers endured eight lead changes but began to take ownership of the game after the first five minutes en route to outscoring the Leopards by seven points in the first half. Schneider did most of his damage in the second half, but the first half belonged to sophomore guard Gokul Srinivasaragavan (San Ramon, Calif. / Dougherty Valley), who scored all but two of his team-high 16 points within the game's first 20 minutes. The sophomore made five shots in that span, including a pair of three-pointers to create the early momentum Caltech needed to come away with a hard-fought road victory of epic proportions.
"I am so happy for our players," Eslinger said. "To get double-digits on the road in a conference setting, we knew it was going to be tough. It wasn't easy and we had to battle and shine. Our guys came together and played terrific defense and worked through each possession."
Inside defensive dominance notwithstanding, Caltech's greatest team achievement came in the turnover department. The Beavers turned the ball over just eight times to the Leopards' 20, which made for a multitude of opportunities for the visitors in transition. Caltech outscored La Verne, 7-0, on the fastbreak and 20-5 in points off turnovers and did all it could to stand its ground when the Leopards took possession. The effort level on defense resulted in the Beavers ceding their fewest amount of points in any win this season -- and in recent memory. In addition to Schneider and Srinivasragavan's sound offensive games, sophomore guard Marcus Gee (Santa Monica, Calif. / Santa Monica) scored 14 points in 34 minutes as the visiting team's third player to reach double-figures. Once Caltech jumped ahead with five minutes to play in the first half thanks to one of Gee's two three-pointers, the Beavers went on to hold the lead for the rest of the game, avoiding the prospect of a late surge from the host Leopards.
Caltech has now beaten La Verne at least once in each of the previous five seasons, the team's longest streak of success against any SCIAC foe. While the Beavers can at best finish at 12 wins this season, two removed from the all-time program record, the camaraderie shown by this year's team combined with its blend of talent and youth could position the men's basketball program for even bigger things to come in near future.
"We are proud of how we executed to start the game," Eslinger said. "These guys will remember this forever; making history together on the same night as our women did."
Eslinger and the Beavers will look to build some late-season momentum when they host the University of Redlands on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m.