In a dramatic overtime finish, the University of Redlands men's basketball team suffered a tough 66-69 loss to the Banana Slugs of UC Santa Cruz in non-conference action on Saturday night in Currier Gym.
The Bulldogs stormed out to a 10-4 lead with solid plays from sophomore forward Parker Landolf (Alamo, CA) and junior forward David Menary (Grass Valley, CA). Parker hit a nothing-but-net three-pointer from the wing off of a feed from Menary, who went on to score six consecutive points, including the trey that put the home team up by six.
The Banana Slugs worked themselves back to a 10-10 tie, but Menary drained his second triple to send Redlands ahead. After senior guard Joey Sponheim (Redlands, CA) sliced to the basket for a layup, Menary stepped back for another deep ball to help give the Maroon and Gray an 18-14 advantage at the 11:49-mark.
Neither team scored for the next couple of minutes until first-year forward Kameron Wright (Fontana, CA) cradled an offensive rebound and put it right back up for the Bulldogs.
After the Banana Slugs cut it to four, Parker remained hot from the perimeter and knocked down another three-pointer to distance the Bulldogs' advantage to 23-16. Menary followed that with a savvy tip-in before junior wing Brittian Foster (Long Beach, CA) maneuvered his way through the defense for a layup.
Menary then caught fire for seven straight points, including a three-pointer that gave Redlands a double-digit lead at 34-24. Santa Cruz clawed back to make it a single-digit hole, but the Bulldogs finished the half strong with a layup from first-year wing Gary Menary (Grass Valley, CA) and another three-ball from Landolf to head into halftime with a 39-30 lead.
The momentum continued through the opening minutes of the second half with layups from Foster and Menary for Redlands' largest lead of the game at 43-30 with 17:40 to go.
However, a Maroon and Gray cold streak allowed the Banana Slugs to crawl back into the game and trailed by only one at the 10:16-mark.
Leading 44-43, the Bulldogs found their rhythm again with a solid scoring spurt that began with a tough jumper from Foster. Sponheim followed that up with a gutsy play by saving the ball from going out of bounds under the basket and immediately feeding it to Landolf, who converted his fourth triple of the game. The three-pointer lifted the Bulldogs to a 49-43 lead with about eight minutes to go.
Nonetheless, the Banana Slugs refused to go away and worked back to make it a one-possession game at 51-54 with 3:51 left in regulation.
Out of a timeout, Head Coach Jim Ducey drew up the perfect play for the Bulldogs, which resulted in a layup from D. Menary for a five-point lead. But UCSC answered with a huge and-one drive to the hole.
Sophomore guard Michael Hanna (Murrieta, CA) found Sponheim in the corner for his first three of the game to ignite the crowd and put the Bulldogs ahead, 59-54, with 54 seconds left in regulation.
But the Banana Slugs connected on a pair of clutch baskets in the final moments to tie it up at 59-all. Redlands had one final look at the winning shot but it was waved off by the officials as time expired in regulation, resulting in the extended contest.
Menary knocked down two mid-range jumpers early in the extra period to make it 63-61. After Santa Cruz tied the game, D. Menary converted a go-ahead free throw to make it 64-63 with 2:37 to go. After the teams traded hard-fought buckets, including Sponheim's smooth layup for the Bulldogs, Santa Cruz finished the game with four consecutive points while Redlands' final two shots would not fall and left the home team on the losing end of this one.
D. Menary turned in a 22-point first half on his way to a career-high 33 points on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc. He also snagged six rebounds and dished out three assists. Landolf also had a career-night with 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting from deep. G. Menary came off the bench and grabbed nine rebounds, including four off the offensive glass.
The Bulldogs (6-3) face in-region foe, Pacific University (OR), on Monday, December 17, to at 2 p.m. in Currier Gym.