THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - The Cal Lutheran men's basketball team kicked off the New Year with a 70-63 victory in its Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) opener against Pomona-Pitzer inside Gilbert Arena on Saturday afternoon.
The Sagehens jumped out to a quick lead in the first half, taking a 22-6 early advantage behind strong play from freshman guard Daniel Rosenbaum, who tallied 14 points early on.
After falling behind by 16, the Kingsmen went on a 21-5 run over the final 7:50 of the half to tie the game at 27. Freshman Justin Kam capped off the run in exciting fashion with a three-pointer to beat the buzzer.
The second half, however, began much like the first with Pomona-Pitzer starting hot and taking a quick lead. The Sagehens knocked down a pair of three-pointers and extended their lead to double-digits at 47-37 with 12:14 to play in the game.
The Violet and Gold responded with another big run of their own, scoring 12 straight to take a 49-47 lead with just under eight minutes left. Kellen Birdsall was instrumental for the Kingsmen during the five-minute stretch with three lay-ups and Kam knocked down another big three-pointer.
Both teams would trade buckets down the stretch and Rosenbaum would give the Sagehens a 57-55 lead with a strong drive to the hoop with 4:24 remaining. That would be the last lead for Pomona-Pitzer as Adrian Francis came through in the clutch with a pair of free-throws to tie the game and added a lay-up in the paint to give CLU the lead for good.
Up 61-57 after another Birdsall lay-up, Dan Wade hit a three-pointer to put the game away.
Francis tallied a double-double with a team-high 22 points while adding 10 rebounds and dishing out five assists. Birdsall added 15 points and Jeremy Sulker-Hall tallied a double-double as well with 11 points and 11 boards.
Rosenbaum led all players in the game with 27 points and Gibson Farone-Collin added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Sagehens.
Cal Lutheran (5-3, 1-0 SCIAC) will continue conference action at home against Caltech this Wednesday, Jan. 6 at 7:30 p.m.