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.