THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - The Cal Lutheran men's basketball team dropped its first game of the season as Puget Sound held off a second half rally by the Kingsmen to escape Gilbert Arena with an 80-75 win on Monday night.
The first ten minutes of the game featured a back-and-forth battle as both teams were hot early and Caleb Richey led the Kingsmen offensively out of the gates. The junior transfer had nine points in the first seven minutes and his three-pointer with 12:15 on the clock put CLU ahead 17-14.
A few minutes later, Kenneth Moffett knocked down a pair of free-throws to tie the game at 19-19, but the Loggers would go on an 18-6 run over the next 5:26 to take a 37-25 lead.
Austin Cole would sink a trio of free-throws and Richey added a few more baskets, but the hot three-point shooting of Puget Sound gave the Loggers a 45-34 lead at the half. UPS went 7-for-15 from downtown in the first half while shooting 58.1 percent from the field compared to a 1-for-10 showing behind the arc from CLU.
In the second half, however, the Kingsmen responded with seven straight points, highlighted by a pair of nifty layups from Adrian Francis and a difficult baseline reverse from Moffett, to cut the deficit to three, 45-42.
With the Loggers leading 52-46, the Violet and Gold scored six straight points, capped off by another Francis layup to tie the game at 52-52. Blake Miles drained a three-pointer from the top of the key to give CLU a 57-56 lead with just under halfway remaining in the game.
Seemingly every time the Kingsmen inched closer, the Loggers would make a run of their own and pull away. Jimmy Wohrer scored six straight points for UPS and pushed the lead back to 10, 67-57, with a pair of free-throws at 6:22.
Francis led another Kingsmen comeback attempt with three straight layups at the hoop, converting a pair of sensational spin moves to find the bottom of the net and bring CLU within four, 72-68, with 2:33 remaining.
Cole and Richey hit desperation three-pointers down the stretch, but the Loggers capitalized on their free-throws and held off the CLU rally.
Richey led the Kingsmen with a game-high 21 points while Francis finished with 17. Miles added 15 points on 4-for-5 from the field while grabbing a game-high eight rebounds. Cole also reached double-figures for CLU with 10.
Wohrer led the Loggers with 19 points while Carlos Mancasola added 16.
Puget Sound shot 55.6 percent (30-for-54) from the field compared to 39.1 percent (25-for-64) from CLU and outscored the Kignsmen 42-36 in the paint. The Kingsmen held a 30-5 advantage over UPS in points off turnovers, while the Loggers bench outscored CLU's 23-4.
Cal Lutheran (7-1) is back in action on Thursday, Dec. 29 when it hosts the two-day Thrivent Financial Tournament beginning at 5:00 p.m. against Alfred.