In making the “swish” from practice to preseason, the Stags did not disappoint.
In their preseason opener this past Saturday, Nov. 11, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps’ (CMS) men’s basketball stomped on the Banana Slugs, squishing them in a dominant 81-44 win at Roberts Pavilion.
The Stags, currently ranked 23rd in the nation, made both an offensive and defensive statement in their game against UC Santa Cruz (UCSC). With a roster full of new additions, the fawns of the team looked to the older, more experienced Stags to lead the charge and set the tone for the game.
One particular veteran, CMS star Josh Angle CG ’24, substantiated his accolades with a standout performance. Angle, who earned both the NCAA DIII Academic All-American Team Member of the Year and his second-consecutive All-SCIAC first-team selection, led the team with 30 points. However, his influence transcended scoring, providing four assists and six rebounds.
CMS quickly jumped to a 10-0 lead to start the game thanks to consistent and dynamic on and off the ball movement. However, as the first half continued, the pace of the game slowed as CMS was unable to maintain their energy.
Despite lethargic play, contact on several contested shots sent multiple Stags to the stripe, allowing them to catch their breath. Rhett Carter CG ’24 and James Frye CM ’26 both executed, going 4 for 4 and pushing the score to 19-9.
Hoping to reignite the offense with a little over seven minutes left in the half, CMS head coach Ken Scalmarini called a timeout. After the break, Angle led the offensive stampede on a fast break following a defensive steal that he laid up at the other end.
The Stags maintained this momentum, clobbering the Slugs on all fronts. They attacked the paint and drove into the heart of UCSC’s defense, while also suffocating the Banana Slugs’ offensive with a tight defensive scheme. Their onslaught of layups and midrange shots produced a 13-0 run to finish the half. Carter and Will King CG ’24 were key contributors to keeping the streak alive, with a series of offensive rebounds kicked out for successful 3-pointers.
The Stags almost held the opposition to single digits for the first half, but the Slugs snuck in one last bucket to make the score 34-11 heading into halftime. Angle credited the success to the Stags’ high intensity and defense.
“I think in the first half we had really strong energy,” Angle said. “[The team] performed really well on the defensive end which led us to getting some easy baskets on the other end.”
The second half was a story of mini back and forth scoring runs with the Stags defense continuing to shine throughout. Angle continued to attack the paint, drawing contact and energizing the crowd early on after draining a three pointer.
Frye and Max McCalla CM ’24 set the defensive tone early, turning steals into a layup and free throws in the first four minutes of the half. However, it was Reed Jones CM ’27 who led the team’s second half defensive efforts.
Playing physical and up front defense, Jones made an immediate impact. After coming off the bench with just under seven minutes remaining, he stole the ball, initiating an easy fast-break bucket on the other end. On the next play, he blocked a three point attempt, sending the ball down court for a three pointer. He then followed that up with another steal, which led to a lay-up for the Stags.
Jones finished the game with five steals and two blocks along with 7 points. He explained that creating turnovers and contested shots was a focus for the team during their preseason practices.
“Coach Scalmanini emphasizes defense in all of our practices,” Jones said. “We really pride ourselves on making stops on the defensive end.”
UCSC finished the game with 19 turnovers, 14 of which came off of steals by the Stags. Additionally, CMS held the Slugs to a measly 2-21 from deep and 28.6 percent from the field overall. Carter highlighted how the game’s defensive success came from a team effort.
“We had the perfect defensive strategy,” Carter said. “Our guards are amazing. They control where other teams go and that makes it easier for the big men to hedge screens. They get us going and we pick it up from there. I think defensively we were amazing tonight.”
Through a strong defensive showing and a consistent offensive performance, the Stags started the game with the lead and never looked back. Although the game ended heavily in their favor, Angle said the Stags are still focused on learning from every game and looking toward the future.
“Moving forward I think we need to keep building around today’s performance,” Angle said. “We will go back, look at the film and still recognize there is a lot we can get better at. By no means is this an outcome that we are content or satisfied with. We want to keep getting better throughout the course of the season.”
The Stags are looking to actualize Angle’s sentiment throughout the season and in their next game away against Southwestern Texas as part of the Paul Peak Classic on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 2 p.m.