Stags Bounce Back at Caltech

After losing to rival Pomona-Pitzer last Saturday, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s basketball team bounced back to defeat the California Institute of Technology 83-52. 

 “Coming off a loss against Pomona, we had a bunch of extra motivation,” Jack Grodahl CM ’15 said. “We have been playing together so well."

With a season-high 23 team assists, the Stags were able to see open looks as every member of the team contributed to the win. CMS has many talented shooters—almost 50 percent from the field—but against Caltech their shooting percentage was even higher because of teamwork and working the ball inside. They shot 66 percent from the field, while Caltech shot just 33 percent. 

CMS also had 34 rebounds to their opponent's 22, and saw some opportunities for second-chance points under the basket.

“We knew at the beginning that we have a good team and we have the potential to have a good season, but we’ve really come together and we’ve been playing well,” Riley Hall CM '17 said.

Both he and Grodahl agree that their young team has improved in their offensive execution this season.

“We have gotten a lot more physical and kids are starting to pick up the offense more and more,” Grodahl said.

The Caltech Beavers came out strong in the first seven minutes of the game, staying within five points of the Stags. Caltech’s Luke Lango hit two back-to-back three-pointers before being answered by a three from Tyler Gaffaney CM ’14 at 17:01.

A jump shot from Hall at 12:53 started the Stags on a 19-0 run, and the Stags went up 33-11 before Caltech finally answered at the second quarter's 6:52 mark.

CMS continued their run into halftime, working the ball inside and out. Guards Gaffaney and Remy Pinson CM ’14 each hit two three-pointers, while post players Shelby Lane CM ’16 and Nick Lund CM ’16 went perfect from the field, scoring seven and six points, respectively. The Stags went into halftime with a comfortable 44-22 lead.

In the second half, the Stags outscored the Beavers by only nine points, but the cushioned lead at halftime was enough to pull away with a 31-point victory.

Gaffaney led the Stag offense with 17 points, while Lane and Grodahl finished with 13 and 10, respectively. Gaffaney also added six rebounds. Hall played a solid all-around game with his seven points, seven rebounds, and five assists.

Hall, who has been starting the last five games for the Stags, has quickly adjusted to the difference in play at the college level. Against Caltech, he posted a season high for rebounds and assists.

“The biggest difference I noticed right away is the size of the people I’m playing against,” Hall said.

Hall attributes his own physical improvement in the face of these opponents to working in the weight room and practicing against teammate Jason Harrington CM ’16, who is currently sitting out with an injury.

As the season winds down and teams face up against each other again, staying healthy and preparing to face various opponents are the keys to earning wins down the stretch.

“You definitely know the personnel [of opponents] better," Grodahl said. "The biggest difference is they know you, so it’s tougher to score for both teams.” 

The Stags will be tested again on Feb. 15 as they host the University of La Verne Leopards at 5 p.m. in Ducey Gymnasium. In their last meeting, the Stags held the Leopards to their lowest-scoring night of the season, defeating them 53-38. La Verne will be a no rollover opponent, as they are competing for third place in the SCIAC behind CMS and P-P.