Saturday, March 29, 2014

Balanced Attack Propels Caltech to Third Straight Win

Ripollet, Spain -- Playing in the final game of the 2014 International Tour, Caltech overpowered CB Ripollet to win its third straight contest in as many days, 64-50. Ripollet, who plays in the Federació Catalana de Basquetbol, was perhaps the strongest of the four opponents the Beavers faced during the unprecedented trip to Spain. The club, which was formed in 1908, boasts size and experience, but Caltech's confidence and versatility became too much for the home team to handle.

After an energetic warmup (dunking is allowed per FIBA rules), a pre-game ceremony featured introductions of all players, a presentation of gifts to Caltech's coaching staff, followed by the anthems of the United States and Catalonia. From there the friendly turned into a match that heavily favored the Beavers. With their swarming defense, they translated a number of stops into points, and forced Ripollet to call an early timeout, up 14-4.

Lawrence Lee scored 8 points in the first period and Caltech held Ripollet, a team that averages 73 points per match, to 7.

Caltech was flowing beautifully into the second period and gained a 20-point advantage thanks to brilliant play from Ricky Galliani, Andrew Hogue, and Lawrence Lee.

"We really set the tone early," said Andrew Hogue. "Everything was within the offense. We were patient but took every opportunity to be aggressive. It was a well balanced attack and the best I've seen."

Bryan Joel (9 points and 3 assists) continued his spectacular shooting with three 3-pointers, and Nasser Al-Rayes (10 rebounds and 2 blocked shots) dominated the paint.

The second half was no different as the Beavers were able to get every player into the rotation throughout the game. Darius Simmons, Matt Edwards, Rob Anderson, Nick Buoniconti, and Josh Sonola all contributed while Naveen Tadepalli provided some solid minutes at point guard.

When Kc Emezie brought the crowd to its feet with a driving two-hand dunk on the baseline, Caltech was up by 25, its largest lead of the game.

"I was pretty excited," said Emezie. "I knew they made a defensive mistake because they started yelling in Spanish."

Ripollet, a top team in its league and one up for promotion, responded with a 10-0 run, but the Beavers maintained control. David LeBaron (5 points) converted a tough drive with a high-arching shot off the glass and the Beavers kept the lead at double digits in the fourth period.

Caltech finished the game with a 47-31 edge on the glass, 19-7 on the offensive boards. Lee finished with 16 points and 8 boards. Galliani scored 12 and added 8 rebounds. Emezie had 11 points and Hogue 7. Luke Lango tallied 3 assists and 2 steals.

The Beavers completed the journey with a 3-1 record, having won three straight.

"Our confidence was high, in ourselves and in the system," said Bryan Joel. "Winning one gave us confidence to go to the next game. And we could fix things in the second half that we were doing wrong. We learned."

Friday, March 28, 2014

Caltech Takes the Tile in Terrassa, Wins Second in a Row

Terrassa, Spain -- Playing in its second game in as many days, and third game on the tour, Caltech beat Sferic Basquet 57-52 on Thursday night. It was certainly the most physical match of the week with bodies sprawling all over the tiled floor.

"We are playing all games under FIBA rules, so that's been an adjustment in itself," said Coach Eslinger. "But the officiating has been quite different game to game, and this one was more like one of our physically rough SCIAC games."

The Beavers brought their high octane offense from the night prior and scored 24 points in the first period. The inside-outside game was working well as Lawrence Lee and Bryan Joel combined for 17 points. Lee was dominant in the paint and Joel connected on his first three 3-point attempts. (The NBA line was used for this friendly). Caltech enjoyed a 10-point lead heading into the second, 24-14.

The game was flowing nicely for Caltech, and it seemed as if it would extend the lead. However, Sferic tightened up its defense in the second quarter and capitalized on eight Caltech turnovers to tie the game at 33 by halftime.

In the third period, Sferic grabbed its first lead of the contest, and the game went back and forth from there. But Andrew Hogue (10 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals) made two free throws amidst a 10-0 Caltech run that gave the Beavers a lead it would never relinquish.

The fourth was an all out slugfest  that saw Caltech outscore the home team 10-9. Ricky Galliani's tough offensive rebound and put-back in traffic summed up the match. Sferic later cut the margin to two with under two minutes to play, but Joel fed a beautiful pass to Lee for a layup that gave Caltech a two possession lead. After a Sferic free throw made it a 3-point game, Hogue provided the final points with a bucket in the paint that sealed Caltech's second victory of the tour.

"That was probably the best team we've played the whole trip," said Galliani. "They were athletic and worked well together. It's a good club."

Caltech once again won the rebound war 43-38 and assisted on 14 of its 22 field goals. The Beavers also had 15 steals.

"We are moving the ball well and figuring out how to play defense against European basketball," added Galliani.

Lee led all scorers with 16 points. Joel added 12 points to go along with 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 steals. Nasser Al-Rayes tallied 8 points and 8 rebounds while Luke Lango continued his great playmaking with 5 assists and 6 rebounds.

Caltech, now 2-1 during its journey, wraps up the week at CP Ripollet on Friday night.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Caltech Earns First International Win at Circol Catolic

Badalona, Spain -- Shaking off the sluggishness from Monday's game, Caltech bounced back in superb fashion as it beat Circol Catolic 72-69 in the same gym where the 1992 Dream Team held practices. Circol holds third place in the table while Neus, the opponent from Monday night, is 12th.

Circol, another Senior A Squad from Badalona, jumped out to early 9-point leads at 11-2 and 14-5. Caltech, led by the tandem of Bryan Joel and Nasser Al-Rayes, trimmed the deficit to 3 at the end of the first quarter, 19-16.

In the second period, the home team continued to put up points on the back of shooting guard Quim Forteza, who led Circol with 26 points. Caltech kept the margin close as Al-Rayes began to take over. He scored 10 in the second ten minutes and finished the half with 16 points and 8 rebounds.

Circol, which led 35-34 at the half, began the second half on a 6-0 run and scored on its first five possessions. However, the Beavers responded brilliantly and grabbed their first lead of the game on a steal and layup by Luke Lango with 2:15 left in the third. Al-Rayes kept up his torrid scoring with six more points and Joel hit two of his game-high six 3-pointers in the quarter.

The game went back and forth until the middle of the fourth period when Caltech took the lead for good on a Lawrence Lee (14 points and 6 boards) offensive rebound and put-back with six minutes remaining.

"We were much more in sync this game," said Lee. "We all felt much better."

While the Beavers never trailed the rest of the contest, they weren't able to extend the margin past four. Circol  kept it close thanks to Forteza (6 points in the period) and the masterful passing of point guard Pau Ruzafa. A Ruzafa lay-in cut the Caltech lead to 67-66 with 35 seconds to go.

With the shot clock winding down the ball ended up in Joel's hands and he was forced to take a 30-footer (~9 meters) -- that he buried to seemingly give Caltech complete control of the game. The 4-point lead with 15 seconds to play didn't last long.  After hitting five 3's in the first half, Circol responded with its first and only 3 of the second on the ensuing possession. Caltech's lead shrunk to 1 with six seconds to play. From there Luke Lango (4 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists) calmly sank two free throws to extend the lead to 3 with 6.9 seconds to play. Circol, who had taken care of the ball wonderfully all game (7 turnovers to Caltech's 16), stepped out of bounds trying to receive the inbounds pass, and all but sealed the Caltech win.

"We played solid team basketball," said Al-Rayes. "All night, I was getting good looks."

Al-Rayes finished the game with a game-high 27 points and 16 rebounds while Joel tallied 20 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists to propel the Beavers. The visitors won the boards for the second night in a row 50-41. Caltech, now 1-1 on the international tour, plays Thursday night against Sferic Basquet.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Beavers Play Tight Opening Game in Badalona

Badalona, Spain -- The Caltech men's basketball team, playing in another country for the first time in history, entered the gymnasium in Badalona to an energized group of fans and a welcoming opponent. Basquet Neus, a club that plays in the Senior A League, was on a four-game winning streak and looking forward to the international exhibition game. Though both teams were ice cold in the first quarter, the action heated up in the second frame and carried into the next 20 minutes.

Despite hitting 12 3's in its last contest, Basquet Neus only hit one in the first half -- and just four in the game -- but still managed to grab a 28-25 lead at the half. Coming out of halftime the home squad went on a 21-9 run off of 7 Caltech turnovers to take a 15-point lead with 2 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter. From there Caltech rallied to get back into the game thanks to Kc Emezie, who had a game-high 19 points 11 rebounds, and Andrew Hogue, who tallied 9 points, a game-high 14 rebounds, and 5 assists. Caltech was able to cut the deficit to two points twice, once at 53-51 and the other at 59-57. After cutting it to 2 for the second time, Basquet went on a 8-1 run to seemingly take control of the game with a little over a minute to play. Ricky Galliani (9 points, 3 rebounds) scored on the next possession and Bryan Joel (10 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals) got a steal and hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 3 with under 30 seconds to play. Caltech was able to force a miss on Basquet's next turn but, unable to corral the miss, the home team maintained the ball. The Spanish team was able to put the game away at the free throw line and won 68-64.

Caltech was 12 of 15 from the foul line, thanks in large part to Nasser Al-Rayes going a perfect 8 for 8. Basquet Neus shot 24 free throws but only made 13 and had 14 turnovers. Caltech won the rebounding battle 45-43. A very friendly post game exchange led to a jubilant celebration as both teams mingled, took photos, and engaged in ultimate sportsmanship.

Basquet Neus extends its winning streak to a season long 5 games while Caltech plays again Wednesday night against Circol Catolic, another team in the same league.

Stay updated with the journey on and @CaltechHoops.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spain 2014

Men's basketball is on it's first-ever international tour. After a long day+ of traveling, the team made it to Barcelona where it will engage in cultural experiences and sightseeing as well as compete in four exhibition games against club teams from the Barcelona area.

Check back for daily updates. You can also follow happenings on Twitter @CaltechHoops and Facebook.