Win Over Redlands Bids Perfect Farewell to Ducey Gymnasium

With construction set to begin on Roberts Pavilion, a large, multipurpose sports facility scheduled to open in 2016, Claremont McKenna College and the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's basketball team bid goodbye to CMC's Ducey Gymnasium. Alumni, fans, and family attended the Stags' final regular season basketball game Feb. 19 and watched as team members cut down the nets in a post-game ceremony honoring the gym's legacy. The Stags' 74-63 win over the University of Redlands that night was a positive end to the team's history at the beloved gym.

With that win—and their previous win against the University of La Verne on Feb. 15—the Stags improved to 13-1, maintaining a spot atop the SCIAC and clinching at least a share of the conference title.

After Tyler Gaffaney CM ’14 put the Stags up early 30 seconds into the Feb. 15 game with two made free throws, CMS never looked back and beat La Verne 73-61.

Throughout the game, the Stags found their way inside the paint and moved the ball to find open looks. CMS went into halftime with a 34-27 lead after a three-pointer by Remy Pinson CM ’14 with 26 seconds left.

Again in the second half, CMS picked apart La Verne’s defense to create easy buckets. With easy looks, the Stags were highly efficient from the field, shooting 53.2 percent while holding the Leopards to 39.6 percent.

“I thought we were very patient in the second half, and we really worked well together on offense and created quality shots,” head coach Ken Scalmanini said. "We got the right guy the shot when we needed to.”

Gaffaney led the Stags’ offense with 20 points, while Pinson had 12 and Shelby Lane CM ’16 finished with 10 points and nine rebounds. The Stags had one of their best free-throw shooting nights at 74 percent, with a perfect six-for-six coming from Riley Hall CM ’17.

On Feb. 19, the Stags hosted Redlands in the kind of physical and tight game that they expected from the Bulldogs. Redlands came out strong in the beginning of the half and kept the lead for the first seven minutes. The Stags' defense did not get back in time to stop the Bulldogs from hitting quick, open shots in transition.

At 10:51, with back-to-back three pointers by Gaffaney and Jack Grodahl CM ’15, the Stags took control of the lead for the next four minutes.

Each team made their own runs in the first half, bringing about 11 lead changes. The Stags went into the locker room at halftime down 28-29.

After halftime, the Stags remained a few points behind Redlands until Grodahl hit a three-pointer with 16:33 left on the game clock. From there, the Stags took the lead and set a new pace.

Gaffaney hit another three-pointer the next time down the court and, with 14:19 remaining, Grodahl hit his third three-pointer to put the Stags up 44-38. Grodahl finished with nine points, shooting 50 percent from the arc.

The Bulldogs resorted to fouling at the end of the game, and could only come as close as six points as the Stags made 13 of 18 free throws in the last three minutes. Finishing strong, the Stags earned the 74-63 win.

Scalmanini said that his players were “playing to lose instead of playing to win” in the first half, but the second half “was more like Stag basketball.”

“We got the right guys the shot and got pretty physical on defense,” Scalmanini said. “Those two areas made the difference [in the second half].”

The Stags received contributions from a host of players. Gaffaney led the offense with 21 points and added eight rebounds. Jason Harrington CM ’16 and Jack Earley CM ’16 each finished with nine points. Lane and Hall had seven and six rebounds, respectively, and Lane added seven points as well.

The Redlands game marked the last regular season game for the Stags and their last game ever in Ducey Gymnasium. Before the game, CMS Athletic Director Mike Sutton gave a speech honoring the Ducey family, including Ted Ducey’s son, Jim Ducey, who is Redlands’ head coach. Scalmanini has been coaching CMS for 20 years—17 as the head coach—and felt sentimental about his last time coaching this Stags team in Ducey.

“I’m really proud of them,” Scalmanini said. “They fight real hard in Ducey Gym. Coach Ducey would be real proud with this team. We’ve been tough to beat on that home court. We’ve been really successful here, and I’m going to miss this place a lot.”

For seniors like Pinson, the win has a lot of meaning—from honoring the legacy of Ducey Gymnasium to avenging their loss against Redlands last year in the conference championship.

“It’s a fantastic feeling,” said Pinson, who had eight points and six rebounds. “I’m going to enjoy it to the fullest tonight, but it’s back to work tomorrow.”

The Stags will have a quick turnaround after their win against Redlands as they face another tough opponent Feb. 22: California Lutheran University, currently in third place. In their last meeting against the Knights, CMS prevailed 66-58. The Stags will then travel to Whittier College on Feb. 25 for their final regular season matchup before heading into the SCIAC tournament next week.