2018-19 Summary: Redlands Men's Basketball Returns to SCIAC Postseason Tournament in Exciting Campaign

2018-19 Summary: Redlands Men's Basketball Returns to SCIAC Postseason Tournament in Exciting Campaign

Under the direction of Head Coach Jim Ducey, the University of Redlands men's basketball team improved across the board to orchestrate a 15-11 overall record for the most wins since the 2012-13 season and an eight-win improvement from a year ago.  The Bulldogs also finished fourth in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) with a 10-6 mark that propelled them into the SCIAC Postseason Tournament for the first time in four years.

The Bulldogs set the tone with a 58-47 victory over UC Santa Cruz that was paced by senior guard Joey Sponheim (Redlands, CA) and junior forward David Menary (Grass Valley, CA) with 18 and 14 points, respectively. Almost a week later, Redlands returned to Currier Gym for a 76-58 home-opening victory against California Miramar University at the Bulldog Tip-Off Classic. In addition to Menary's game-high 17 points, the Maroon and Gray received solid bench production in the form of eight points apiece from graduate student guard Kyle Hamane (Pasadena, CA) and first-year forward Kameron Wright (Fontana, CA).

Despite a pair of losses in the ensuing weeks, the Bulldogs bounced back to outlast Greenville University (IL), 130-119, in a shootout on the road in Nebraska. Four different players scored in double figures, as highlighted by junior guard Hass Berry (Riverside, CA) with 35 points on 12-for-17 shooting from the field and 4-for-5 shooting from deep. Also off the bench, junior guard Thomas Scriven (Anaheim, CA) nearly notched a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds, to go along with six assists. Junior wing Brittian Foster (Long Beach, CA) also enjoyed a breakout game to pace all starters with 21 points on 83% shooting. He also stuffed the stat sheet with seven rebounds and six assists.

The victory sparked a four-game streak that was capped off by a 69-64 win over Whittier College in the SCIAC opener at home in early December. Redlands received another big game from the Menary-Sponheim duo, which tallied 56% of the team's points. Menary dropped 21 points with eight rebounds, while Sponheim posted 18 points and five boards. In addition, sophomore forward Parker Landolf (Alamo, CA) stepped up and chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds.

Redlands endured a cold stretch that included five losses from mid-December to mid-January but also provided an exciting 61-59 upset of NCAA Division II foe, Cal State San Bernardino, in an exhibition showdown.  The squad grinded out the win over the Coyotes with 13 players contributing minutes, as Menary led the Maroon and Gray with 12 points, five rebounds, three assists, and three steals.

The Maroon and Gray jumped back in the win column with a 77-65 road victory over Cal Lutheran University on January 9. In one of his strongest performances of the season, first-year guard Gary Menary (Grass Valley, CA) scored a season-high 21 points to go along with another season-best nine rebounds. Sponheim contributed 18 points, while Berry came off the bench with 12 points in 14 minutes of action. The Bulldogs' momentum carried over into a five-game win streak during the latter half of January to put them within striking distance of a postseason berth.

Against Caltech, Sponheim lit up the scoreboard for a game-leading 23 points to not only help his team secure the 63-52 victory but to also sketch his name into the U of R record books as a 1,000-point scorer.  He began the big night by knocking down the Bulldogs' first field-goal for an early lead. 

Sponheim followed up his milestone by torching the nets for a career-high 40 points in a 101-97 victory over Occidental College. Sponheim shot 12-for-17 from the field, 7-for-10 from the perimeter, and 9-for-10 from the charity stripe during his career night. D. Menary also caught fire by reaching the 33 point-mark, which he did three times this season. Furthermore, Landolf provided clutch scoring with 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting from downtown.

After D. Menary's 29-point outing in the Bulldogs' 83-55 thrashing of the University of La Verne, it was all hands on deck in an 87-77 victory over Whittier College to culminate Redlands' winning streak. Sophomore guard Michael Hanna (Murrieta, CA) could not miss in a career-high 21-point performance, including a 4-for-5 clip from the three-point line. He also added six rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Sponheim scored 19 points, while D. Menary and G. Menary notched 12 points each. Off the bench, sophomore forward Spencer Bandow (Covina, CA) dropped in 11 points and reeled in seven boards, both of which served as career-highs.

However, Redlands entered February in a three-game slump but turned it around in a fierce race to the conference postseason tournament. The Bulldogs embraced the challenge and rattled off four wins in the final four games of the regular season. In perhaps the most entertaining game of the season, the Bulldogs battled through adversity in a 97-96 triple-overtime victory against Chapman University. For the third time this season, D. Menary reached the 33-point mark while also providing seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals. He also hit the go-ahead basket with four seconds left in the third overtime to secure the incredible win. Sponheim nearly notched a double-double with 17 points, nine boards, and four steals, while Berry enjoyed another big game off the bench with 16 points and two steals.

After cruising to wins over Cal Lutheran and Caltech, the Bulldogs looked to finish strong against the University to La Verne in the final regular-season showdown. Leaning on 29 points from D. Menary, the Bulldogs took down the Leopards, 72-56, and earned their first SCIAC Postseason Tournament berth since 2015-16.

The Maroon and Gray faced a tough opponent in top-seeded Pomona-Pitzer Colleges, who ended the regular season ranked 14th in NCAA Division III. Despite out-scoring the Sagehens, 43-32, in the second half, the Bulldogs fell just short in a 77-79 loss. Sponheim ended his career with 17 points, three assists, and two steals. In another solid performance off the bench, Berry tallied 15 points in the effort.

For the season, D. Menary paced the team with 19.2 points per game, which was third in the conference, on an impressive 52.6% clip. Sponheim, who was twice named the SCIAC Offensive Athlete of the Week, completed the one-two punch for the Bulldogs with a scoring average of 17.2 points and a team-high 3.8 assists. With their performances this season, D. Menary earned All-SCIAC First-Team honors, while Sponheim landed on the Second Team. In addition, he finished his four-year career at Redlands with 1,207 total points to rank seventh all-time for the Bulldogs.  Defensively, Hanna owned a team-high 1.3 steals per game, while Landolf anchored the paint with 0.8 blocks per game.

While needing to fill the holes left by Sponheim and Hamane, the Bulldogs strive to continue building upon a solid foundation for the bright future of Redlands men's basketball. This season brought plenty to celebrate and serves as great motivation for the returning crew of contributors, as the team eyes a consistent stay among the top tier of the SCIAC.