THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - The second Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) game of the season was just as challenging as the first, but the outcome tonight was a sour one as the Cal Lutheran men's basketball team dropped the game, 70-66, to Caltech inside of the Gilbert Arena.
The tip-off went to Caltech and a battle ensued although it was a complete tale of two halves with the Kingsmen winning the opening half 41-25 and the Beavers rallying back to win the second half 45-25 and ultimately the game.
CLU took a 14-8 lead at the first timeout and opened a 16-point halftime advantage. The Violet and Gold shot at a 46.7 clip, going 6-for-9 from three-point range in the opening 20 minutes. Dan Wade used a perfect 6-for-6 showing at the free-throw line with 11 first half points to help the Kingsmen to the early lead. Although the Cal Lutheran was slightly more accurate shooting, the Beavers posed a challenge on the glass, coming down with 18 rebounds in the first half while CLU grabbed just 13. The Kingsmen did, however, force 14 CIT turnovers in the first frame while committing just five.
Out of the locker rooms the Beavers chipped away, tying things at 45-45 on a three-pointer from Lawrence Lee. Caltech outscored the Kingsmen 20-4 over the first 10 minutes of play in the second stanza and made it a ballgame. The score teeter-tottered and at the final media timeout the squads were again knotted at 58-58 with 4:10 remaining in regulation. David LeBaron put CIT ahead at 62-60 for the team's first lead of the night. The differential grew to 65-60 and then an exciting ending transpired, though Cal Lutheran fell to the losing side of things.
While the Caltech shooting in the second half was hot at 62.5 percent, the Kingsmen cooled off to 32.1 percent with just a 2-for-7 showing from behind the arc, which proved the difference. CIT out rebounded CLU 38-21 overall and the Beavers put up seven blocks on Cal Lutheran with Nasser Al-Rayes notching five.
Caltech (4-7, 2-0 SCIAC) improved to 2-0 in conference play for the first time since the 1953-54 season when the Beavers earned their only SCIAC title. Leading the way tonight for the Black and Orange was LeBaron with 19 points as one of five men to reach double figures. Both Al-Rayes and Ricky Galliani recorded double-doubles with 10 points and 11 rebounds and 12 points and 10 rebounds, respectively.
Leading the Kingsmen was Wade with 19 points to share the game-high with Sam Cirillo adding 12 and Connor McGuire adding 10. McGuire also led the way with five rebounds and four steals tonight.
Tonight was the first time since the 1962-63 season that Caltech topped Cal Lutheran. The score of that game was 71-70 and it was the first meeting between the programs. Tonight was the first time CIT defeated CLU in a SCIAC contest.
Cal Lutheran (5-4, 1-1) will hit the road on Saturday, Jan. 9 when the Kingsmen travel to La Verne for a 2:00 p.m. start against the Leopards prior to a women's game at the LV Tents.