Redlands Men's Basketball overcomes 10-point deficit to beat Whittier College in SCIAC opener

Image Credit: Adrian Williams
Image Credit: Adrian Williams

WHITTIER, Calif. – The University of Redlands Men's Basketball team opened up Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) play Wednesday night overcoming a ten-point deficit in the first half to beat Whittier College 87-78.

The Bulldogs have now stretched their winning streak to five games as they improve to 5-1, 1-0 SCIAC, while picking up their first win on the road.

Nathaniel Johnson (Seattle, WA) led the Maroon and Grey with a team-high 19 points on 6-of-7 shooting along with seven rebounds and two blocks. Chozen Amadi (Dallas, TX) added 18 points and six rebounds and Neil Owens (Pasadena, CA) returned to action with 17 points, four rebounds, and two steals. The final Bulldog in double figures was Khyree Armstead (Mountlake Terrace, WA) who added 13 points, four assists, three rebounds, and three steals.   

Redlands had to come back from a double-digit first half deficit to pull off the win in front of a raucous crowd inside the Graham Athletic Center.  It was a slow start for the U of R offense, trailing by six, 10-4, through the first five minutes. After the Poets made it a seven-point lead at the 12:34 mark, Johnson and Armstead each scored to cut the deficit to four, 15-11. 

Whittier responded to the short run with an 8-3 push as they took their largest lead of the game at ten, 23-13, with the first ten minutes of the half gone. The Bulldogs did not allow the lead to grow any further as Owens and Jakob Poulton (Nampa, ID) each hit threes within a minute to get UR within two possessions, 25-19. 

The Poets would take less than a minute to reestablish their double digit advantage, but over the course of the final 7:32 of the first half the Bulldogs went on an 18-10 run, which included scoring ten of the final fourteen points to cut the deficit to two, 39-37, at the break.   

In the first two minutes of the second half, Johnson made a three off an Armstead assist, which set the tone for the rest of the game as Redlands took their first lead, 40-39.

Much like the first half, the Poets fought back and took the lead twice and tied it on another occasion as they were out in front by two, 44-42, with three minutes gone. But over the next five minutes the U of R took control scoring 18 of the next 21 points to take a thirteen point advantage, 60-47.

Redlands maintained their multi-possession lead despite the Purple & Gold getting within seven, 60-53, less than a minute and a half later. Amadi made a free throw with 9:43 left to stop the run and from that point forward the Bulldogs led by ten or more for 6:35 of the next 6:57 before WC got within eight, 82-74, with under three minutes to play. 

The closest Whittier would get was six, 82-76 as Owens would knock down a triple followed by an Armstead two-handed jam, which finished off a 5-2 run, putting the game away. 

The Bulldogs were highly efficient offensively, shooting 53.4% from the floor. They only made five threes, a season-low, but they held the Poets to seven three-point makes and were plus eleven at the line. Redlands did get lucky not to be punished more for their 12:24 assist to turnover ratio that cost them 24 points off turnovers.  They did however win the battle in the paint 36-30 and on the glass 34-25, while picking up 18 second chance points.     

Redlands returns to their non-conference schedule with a pair of road games in Texas in a couple weeks on Tuesday and Thursday, December 13 and 15, both being played at 5:00 p.m. PST. They will take on LeTourneau University and East Texas Baptist University.