THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Opening night was a battle as the teams were never separated by double figures. When Cal Lutheran took a 31-28 lead in the final seconds of the first half the momentum seemed to have shifted until Bethesda return the gesture in the waning seconds to take a 56-55 lead and steal the victory from the Kingsmen.
With 6:40 to play in the second half, CLU went up 52-43 on a Collin Knudsen jumper. Bethesda converted their next possession into a bucket and went on a 5-0 run to cut the Kingsmen advantage to 55-48. Jayvaughn Nettles promptly pushed the lead back to seven with a three pointer on an assist from Steven Davis with just under two minutes remaining in regulation.
That was all the offense on the court for Cal Lutheran tonight, however, as Bethesda closed out the game with a three-point play on a layup and free-throw from Vincent Turner followed by a three-pointer from Turner and a fade away jumper with 1.7 seconds to play by Ralph Monday, for the one-point win.
In the early going CLU trailed 8-2 and again by six at 20-14. Knudsen knocked down a three to pull the Kingsmen within one at the 8:42 mark in the first half and Corey Quintana hit a jumper at 6:20 to again cut the gap to a single point. Davis fed Jeremy Sulker-Hall a pass that he layed in at 2:42 to give Cal Lutheran their first lead of the night since Martin Flowers opened the game with a jumper. Sulker-Hall tacked on the and-one to give CLU a 28-26 advantage. The next Bethesda possession saw Justin Latham knot the teams up, but it was Nettles who connected for a bucket from long range, while toppling over the Bethesda bench and into the water cart as time expired, to give the Kingsmen a lead at the break.
After the intermission the teams were close until Nettles again hit a three, giving CLU a seven point lead. They gained another seven point cushion on a Michael Palmer layup before Knudsen gave the Kingsmen their largest lead of the night.
Nettles and Palmer shared the CLU lead with 13 points while Flowers and Knudsen each chipped in with eight. Nettles also handed out a game-high six assists with Davis adding four assists.
CLU out rebounded Bethesda 42-30, coming down with 12 on the offensive end of the court. Sulker-Hall led all players with 12 boards while Palmer was a rebound away from a double-double with nine. Nettles finished with seven. Davis was tough defensively with six steals and Nettles and Dan Wade came up with three steals apiece. Cal Lutheran combined for five blocks with Sulker-Hall recording three and Nettles being credited with a pair.
Tonight marked the first collegiate appearance for Wade and Quintana as each donned the Violet and Gold.
Cal Lutheran will be back on the hardwood Monday, Nov. 19 when they host La Sierra at 7:30 p.m. in the Gilbert Arena.