With a tense environment at Roberts Pavilion, numerous students filed in to see this week’s Sixth Street basketball rivalry. Despite Claremont-Mudd-Scripps hosting, roars from Pomona-Pitzer’s student section drowned out those of CMS.
In their final matchups against the Stags and Athenas, both P-P basketball teams pulled out wins en route to earning top seeds in the SCIAC postseason tournament. Following their successful regular seasons, both P-P programs are now aiming to make a deep run in the conference playoffs and reach the Division III national tournament.
No. 1 ranked men’s basketball becomes regular season champions behind Matt Eberle PO ’22, dominate Occidental in SCIAC quarterfinals
Following a tight 57-53 loss in their first matchup December of last year, P-P got its revenge against CMS last Saturday behind the roaring Sagehen crowd in their penultimate regular season game.
“The energy of the crowd increased the emotions of the game and enhanced everything to another level,” senior captain Matt Eberle PO ’22 said. “Each defensive stop, each score took a lot out of us to get each of those but it felt really good.”
P-P primarily rallied behind the 16-point effort from Eberle and an impressive double-double from star guard Brendan Mora PO ’23, who notched 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Other notable contributors included the freshman trio of starters Joe Cookson, Pete Boyle and Ty Bergman PO ’25 off the bench, shooting 5-for-9 from the 3-point-line en route to 35 points combined.
The first half of the game featured a back-and-forth affair between the Sagehens and the Stags, trading basket for basket for the first ten minutes of play. However, CMS found momentum behind a collective effort from numerous wing players, stretching the Stags’ lead to 30-20 with five minutes left in the first half.
However, the Sagehens immediately found a spark and responded for the remainder of the half, featuring efforts from Eberle, Mora and Cookson. WIth seconds ticking near the buzzer, Peyton Mullarkey PZ ’25 swooped inside for a layup before the clocks hit zero, capping off a 16-3 Sagehen scoring run to retake the lead 36-33.
This momentum carried P-P into the second half as the Sagehens found a 10-2 scoring run late in the second half to dispel any signs of a Stags’ comeback. Bergman finished off the game with an open-court dunk to seal the victory for P-P, winning 76-67.
With this game at Roberts signifying senior night for the Sagehens, Eberle described the feelings behind serving as one of P-P leading scorers this year and earning first-team all SCIAC honors.
“I’m definitely really grateful; I worked a lot in the offseason and COVID years to stay in shape, but also get better,” he said. “[Being] recognized by the conference as one of the leaders on the court feels so good.”
Following their dominant 13-2 conference record and 18-4 overall record in the regular season, the Sagehens started off their 2022 SCIAC postseason with a dominant showing. Being ranked No. 1 in the playoff seeding, P-P blew out Occidental by 30 points in the SCIAC quarterfinal, 96-66.
Numerous players scored in double figures for the Sagehens, as Eberle again led the way by scoring 23 points. Most notably, both Mora and Johnny King PO ’23 displayed standout double-double performances in the match, notching double-digit points and rebounds for P-P.
The key to being victorious in the playoff match was the Sagehens’ ability to rebound the basketball, out-rebounding the Tigers 45-27 in the match while earning numerous second-chance opportunities.
Despite taking a comfortable 48-35 halftime lead at the end of twenty minutes, Eberle explained how the Sagehens kept their composure and did not let themselves get carried away with this early lead.
“In SCIAC games, you never know what’s going to happen; we played Oxy a week ago and we were up by 20 with ten minutes to go and they cut it to [a] one point [deficit] with a minute left,” the senior captain said. “Being up 13 at half meant nothing to us, so we came out and really honed in the defense and just kept trudging along.”
P-P successfully maintained this mindset throughout the second half, outscoring Occidental by more than they did in the first half.
Looking forward to SCIAC semifinals this evening, Eberle said the locker room is excited for its upcoming match against Cal Lutheran.
“We’re playing really well both offensively and defensively and we’re confident and happy going into the next few days,” he said.
Women’s season finale ends in a blowout, cruising past Caltech and Chapman to reach SCIAC championship game
The P-P women outdid the men’s performance, beating the Athenas by double digits in their regular season finale.
Featuring a 25-point effort from star guard and senior captain Madison Quan PZ ’22, P-P cruised to victory by outscoring the Athenas in the final three quarters. Dealing with injuries the entire year, Kamil English PO ’22 also checked into a regular season game for the final time in her collegiate career, knocking down a free throw in contribution to the Sagehen win.
After taking a comfortable victory against the Caltech Beavers 53-43 in the SCIAC quarterfinals, the Hens proved dominant over the Chapman Panthers in the semis.
The match featured double-digit point efforts from four Sagehen starters: Quan earned 19 points, Emily Church PO ’23 scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, veteran guard Charlize Andaya PZ ’23 dialed in 12 points and senior forward Vanessa Hsia PO ’22 knocked in 10 points and four rebounds.
Following these two consecutive victories, the Sagehens will now face the Whittier Poets in the SCIAC championship game on Saturday, with a trip to the DIII national postseason bracket on the line.