With the roars of Pomona-Pitzer’s crowd filling Roberts Pavilion last Sunday, Matt Eberle PO ’22 drained a clean mid-range swish with 17 minutes remaining in regulation.
Up 20 at this point, the Sagehens seemed like they would cruise to victory against the formidable Chapman Panthers, who had no defensive answer for scorers like Eberle and Brendan Mora PO ’23. Meanwhile, the Panther offense was stagnant, opening out the second half shooting 1-for-6 from the field and missing easy layup opportunities.
But after a shot-clock beating three from Chapman right after, the Sagehens missed nine consecutive shots for the next seven minutes of play. Tensions high with a small Chapman crowd rallying, the Panthers staged a scoring barrage and slashed the deficit to four points.
This back-and-forth affair between the Sagehens and Panthers mirrored the fight to climb atop the SCIAC postseason peak, with both teams vying to be crowned as champs.
With P-P battling for its third consecutive SCIAC title and Chapman looking for their first since 2016, stars on both squads came out to play. Eberle and Mora combined for 40 points and 15 rebounds, with Mora recording double-doubles in every SCIAC postseason game. For the Panthers, star guards Chandler White, Hayden Moore and Jack Roggin combined for 56 points, nailing ten three-pointers in the contest.
The majority of the first half featured both squads trading major scoring streaks back-and-forth. When the Sagehens opened up small leads, Chapman would immediately respond with buckets of their own, with the two teams not being separated by more than six points.
With eight minutes remaining in the first half, however, the Sagehens shifted gears. Eberle scored 10 of his 23 points by slashing through the paint and hitting perimeter shots, while Pete Boyle PO ’25 contributed five of his 15 within this short spurt.
After a Ty Bergman PO ’25 assist for a Mora three-pointer to beat the first half buzzer, this capped a 22-10 scoring run and grew the Sagehen lead to 13 points — up 48-35.
Following the halftime break, P-P continued this momentum through the early moments of the second half, building their lead to 20. However, with a sudden scoring onslaught from the Panthers and an 0-for-9 dry spell for the Sagehens soon after, Chapman climbed back into the game and narrowed the game to 59 P-P – 55 Chapman.
While the Panthers threatened to take the lead, the Sagehens continued to maintain a one-basket lead coming down the stretch. WIth every Chapman bucket being answered by clutch shots from Eberle, Bergman and Joe Cookson PO ’25, tensions continued to brew between the two crowds.
With 13 seconds left in the game and P-P up by one point, Eberle committed a costly turnover after a faulty pass from Peyton Mullarkey PZ ’25. As a Chapman forward lunged forward to finish an easy layup, the forward jumped up and swatted the ball away in the final seconds, effectively ending the game after pairs of free throws from Mora and Boyle, 76-71.
Following the championship’s conclusion, Eberle received SCIAC’s postseason most valuable player nod, having averaged 21.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in the tournament.
Having punched their ticket to the DIII national tournament, the Hens will face off against Northwestern-St. Paul in the first round of competition this afternoon.