Redlands Basketball Focused on Future After Tough 2016
The University of Redlands men’s basketball team battled through a challenging 2016-17 season that resulted in an overall record of 8-17 and a 4-12 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) mark. With a youthful roster that showed great promise for the future, the Bulldogs struggled to close out the tight games, with more than half of the losses determined by five or fewer points.
Redlands officially opened the season by traveling up north to UC Santa Cruz to play in the Scotts Valley Hilton Classic in mid-November. After dropping a tough 59-61, back-and-forth battle to Pacific University (OR), the Bulldogs faced a quick turnaround against tournament host UC Santa Cruz. Despite being down by six at the half, Redlands showed great tenacity and perseverance to orchestrate a second-half scoring surge that inspired a hard-fought, 77-72 win over the Banana Slugs. Among the highlights, sophomore forward Trevor Brown recorded his best game of the season by notching seven points. Junior forward Nate Battisti chipped in four points, dished out two assists, and hauled in one rebound in just 16 minutes of action off the bench.
During the annual Lee Fulmer Memorial Classic, the Maroon and Gray split results against non-conference opponents, Trinity University (TX) and University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Junior guard Kyle Husslein put up some big numbers in the close, 63-60 victory over Trinity by registering 10 points, six rebounds, and one assist.
Redlands went 2-3 over the next five games, ending their non-conference run with an 86-69 triumph over La Sierra University at Whittier’s Purple & Gold Poet Classic. After the Bulldogs created an early 10-point advantage, junior guard Wyatt Pannabecker, freshman forward Brittain Foster and junior forward Will Tender added a spark off the bench to send their team into the locker room with a 39-28 halftime lead. Furthermore, senior forward Erick Oscarson and freshman guard Jesse Grabow added to the Maroon and Gray’s success with quality minutes as well. The squad continued to shine and eventually secured the 86-69 victory over the Golden Eagles in a solid showing.
After the holiday break, the team struggled to create a consistent, offensive rhythm and dropped its first three out of the gates. Despite shooting 51.9% from the field, the third loss came in heartbreaking fashion by just one point against Chapman University.
But this difficult defeat appeared to light a spark in the Bulldogs, as they went on to top Caltech by a score of 78-71 in their subsequent contest. Although the game included six ties and four lead-changes, Redlands pulled away late due to great defense and quality shooting. While trailing three at the half, freshman forward Jesse Wims remained cool at the line to sink four free-throws early in the second stanza. Wims went on to score nine points and haul in six rebounds in the final 20 minutes of action en route to his first double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
The Maroon and Gray jumped back in the win column with a pair of victories to cap off the month of January. Redlands completed the season sweep of Caltech with an 89-64 result while earning a hard-fought 77-75 win over Occidental College. Freshman guard Hass Berry put together his two best games of the season by combining for 15 points and nine rebounds. Late in the game against the Beavers, sophomore guard Jacob Forte and sophomore guard Allen Quintero each left their mark on the score with two points apiece.
The Bulldogs finished the regular season with road games at Whittier and Pomona-Pitzer. After Milligan went off against Cal Lutheran, he matched those points by scoring 19 against Whittier and then supplied 19 points, six rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and two steals in another well-rounded display against Pomona-Pitzer. Sponheim put on an offensive display in his best game of the season to find the zone for a 9-for-11 night, including five three-pointers, for a career-high 26 points in the 87-75 victory over the Sagehens.
After the conclusion of the season, Baker received Second-Team All SCIAC honors in his inaugural season as a Bulldog. He finished first on Redlands’ stat sheet with 415 points, 16.6 points per game, 46 steals, 1.8 steals per game, and 118 defensive rebounds. Baker started all 25 games that he appeared in and had 21 games with more than 10 points and 15 games with more than 15 points.
With spurts of brilliance, the Maroon and Gray battled through a difficult campaign that shows promise for the future. Among those bright spots, the Bulldogs celebrated a dedicated senior class but look forward to the continued development and upcoming contributions of a talented returning crew.