THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - In its 2013-14 season opener, Cal Lutheran used a pair of newcomers to hold off a late rally by Bethesda Christian and defeat the Flames 77-74 Wednesday night in Gilbert Arena. Playing their first game on campus, Arik Smith led all scorers with 22 points and follow newcomer Coltrane Powdrill chipped in 18 more including 12-of-16 from the free-throw line.
The hot-shooting Kingsmen started from the get-go with CLU rushing out to a 15-2 lead to begin the game. Smith scored 10 points during the first five minutes of the game, going 4-of-5 from the field and hitting both free throws.
Cal Lutheran displayed a balance attack for much of the half as seven different Kingsmen scored. Joining Smith in double-figures was Michael Palmer, who netted 10 points including hitting two three-pointers. The Kingsmen got its biggest lead of the half when Lanaki Apele drove to the basket and found Jeremy Sulker-Hall, who sunk a base-line jump-shot as the buzzer sounded to put CLU up by 18 headed into intermission.
The Kingsmen continued to pour it on in the earlier stages of the second half, leading by as many as 26 after a Palmer hit a three-pointer from the right wing and Corey Quintana converted a lay-up on the following possession and put CLU 56-30 .
Leading by 10 with less than a minute to play, Bethesda came up with a steal, made a lay-up then a three-pointer to bring the score to 71-76. Sulker-Hall was fouled following the in-bounds pass and made one of two free-throws to put CLU back up by six but then Myron Davis sunk a three as time expired, making the Cal Lutheran's win closer than it appeared.
Palmer joined Powdrill and Smith in double figures with 15 points while Quintana and Sulker-Hall each had seven. Quintana also hauled in six rebounds and Guy Lynott was second with five.
Freshman Curtis Opsahl made his collegiate debut Wednesday and senior guard Steven Davis returned to action just a year after he suffered a season-ending injury in 2012.
Daniel Chavez led the Flames with 14 points.
Cal Lutheran (2-0) will be back in action next Tuesday, Nov. 26, when it takes on Pacifica. Tip-off is set for 7:30 pm inside Gilbert Arena.