THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - In the first home game of the season, the Cal Lutheran men's basketball team used a big second half to pull away from Bethesda and treat the home crowd to a 108-91 victory inside Gilbert Arena on Thursday night. With the win, the Kingsmen are off to a 5-0 start for the first time since the 1996-97 season.
Austin Cole was hot early and poured in 12 of the first 16 points for CLU as the Violet and Gold jumped out to a 16-8 lead. Bethesda closed the gap with a 12-5 run of its own before back-to-back-to-back baskets from Adrian Francis helped hold off the Flames offensive attack.
At the break, the Kingsmen held a slight 39-37 lead despite shooting just 37.8 percent (14-for-37) from the field compared to 50 percent (16-for-32) from Bethesda.
In the second half, CLU caught fire from behind the arc to create some separation early. Francis drained a three to open the scoring in the frame while Cole followed with back-to-back triples on assists by Caleb Richey. Wolfgang Wood started making his presence felt with a handful of rebounds and put-backs, including an and-one opportunity to put the Kingsmen ahead 51-43.
With a 57-48 lead, Francis sank a pair of free-throws to begin a stretch of 10 unanswered points, highlighted by another three-pointer from Cole as well as a three from Richey. Francis drove to the hoop for a layup to cap the run and put CLU ahead 67-48. Overall, the Kingsmen opened the second half on a 28-9 run to steal the momentum of the game.
The Violet and Gold outscored Bethesda 69-54 in a high-scoring second half that saw Francis, Cole and Wood all notch double figures. CLU shot 57.1 percent (20-for-35) from the field and 54.5 percent (6-for-11) from downtown compared to 47.6 percent (20-for-42) and just 26.3 percent (5-for-19) from three for Bethesda in the frame.
Francis and Cole finished with a game-high of 23 points while Wood added 20 and Richey flirted with a triple-double posting 13 points, 10 assists and six rebounds. Wood and Francis added eight rebounds to their tallies and Richey led the team with four steals.
For the Flames, Jarrell Tate scored a team-high 16 points and Buddha Boyd finished with 15.
Cal Lutheran (5-0) will remain at home for its next contest against UC Santa Cruz on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 3:00 p.m.
Box Score: CLU 108, BU 91
CLU Twitter: https://twitter.com/clusports
CLU Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clusports
CLU Instagram: http://instagram.com/clusports#