The Pi Gamma Royals stepped on the court against the Phi Beta Bulldogs Monday, Feb. 4, in a highly anticipated league matchup that didn’t disappoint. Phi Beta claimed the victory with a score of 69-52.
The Royals took advantage of Phi Beta’s poor post passing and shooting at the outset to gain initial control. The Phi Beta offense seemed determined to force the ball to freshman forward Daniel Ellerbrock in the high post and freshman center Jordan Kelley on the low block. Pi Gamma capitalized on this predictability, forcing Ellerbrock to turn the ball over several times and talk his way into a technical foul. Phi Beta’s attempts to pound the ball into the low post and drive the baseline were quickly stopped, as junior shooting forward Bryce Allen brought defensive size into the lane for Pi Gamma to guard Kelley.
Allen’s offense, though not to the tune of his 36 points last week, led the Royals to a sizeable first-half lead. But Phi Beta hung around with a tough defensive effort from junior guard Caleb Thompson and some timely 3-point shooting from senior Chacho Valadez. Kelley also got some buckets to fall, and Phi Beta carried some momentum into halftime.
Ellerbrock got Phi Beta the first points of the second half with a high-post bank shot, then Pi Gamma’s Allen air-balled a 3-pointer before answering with a jump shot of his own to bring the lead to 33-23. Bulldogs freshman forward Billy Kauffman came out strong five minutes in and knocked down his first bucket of the half to cut the lead. Allen answered with free throws and a goaltending call, but Kauffman continued his shooting attack and knocked down two 3-pointers to tie the game at 33.
Pi Gamma senior forward Shin Ho Oh drew a foul for Pi Gamma and recovered the lead again with free throws, but Phi Beta’s sophomore forward Tyler Collins stole it back with a gutsy 3-pointer. Kauffman eventually gave Phi Beta a 10-point lead with another deuce, and the Royals’ frenzied play down the stretch failed to bring them back.