Going into the Pomona-Pitzer men’s basketball team’s encounter with California Lutheran University, Kyle McAndrews PO ’15 predicted that the Kingsmen would pose a difficult challenge: “Every league game is a tough one, and Cal Lu will be no different.”
McAndrews’ assessment rung true, as the Sagehens narrowly prevailed 60-58 over the Kingsmen Wednesday night at Voelkel Gymnasium. Following Saturday’s 81-72 loss to the University of Redlands, the Sagehens’ win leaves them 2-1 in SCIAC competition.
P-P led for the majority of the game but could never definitively separate itself from Cal Lutheran. The Kingsmen whittled the Sagehens’ advantage down throughout the second half and ultimately tied the game at 51 with 6:23 left to play. McAndrews responded for P-P with a layup a minute later, and the Sagehens never relinquished their lead from there forward.
Harrison Green PO ’13, inserted into the starting lineup for the injured Michael Cohen PO ’15, opened the evening’s scoring with a two-point jumper. On P-P’s next offensive possession, Jake Klewer PO ’14 put-back a missed shot by Xavyr Moss PZ ’13 to open a quick four-point lead. Klewer’s play would be emblematic of his entire performance, as he was relentless on the offensive boards and notched 12 points and six rebounds in the first half alone. Klewer added two points and eight rebounds in the second half to finish with the impressive stat line of 14 points and 14 rebounds.
After Klewer’s finish, the Kingsmen found their feet offensively and matched the Sagehens largely point-for-point until two John Weiss layups bookended a McAndrews three-pointer to open up a seven-point lead for P-P. The two sides traded buckets for the rest of the half, and the Sagehens entered halftime in control of the game.
Klewer’s steal ten seconds into the second half and McAndrews’s subsequent layup gave the Sagehens a nine-point cushion. The Kingsmen didn’t wilt and rode the hot shooting hands of Corey Quintana and Martin Flowers to arrive within one of the Sagehens. The Sagehens pushed their lead back to five when a Green three-pointer followed a layup, a set of McAndrews-made free throws and a Cal Lutheran bucket.
The Kingsmen, however, fought back once again and forced a five-second violation on P-P with roughly a minute remaining. Klewer drew a charge on Cal Lutheran 10 seconds later, but the Sagehens couldn’t capitalize on this opportunity to ice the game.
Cal Lutheran, down three with 11 seconds left on the clock, had a seemingly open three-pointer, but John Weiss PO ’14 stepped out to the perimeter and rejected the attempt. The block was the culmination of Weiss’s solid night, as he registered eight points and five rebounds. A Cal Lutheran player then drew a foul with less than two ticks left on the clock, sunk his first free throw and intentionally missed the second in order to get a chance at tying the game. Klewer, of course, collected the rebound as time expired.
Against Redlands, the Sagehens struggled from the get-go. McAndrews said about the loss, “Initially we came out a little flat, and they made us pay.”
The Bulldogs shot 62.5 percent in the first half, and the Sagehens were down 41-19 at one point before they clawed back to a 13-point deficit at halftime. P-P capitalized on this momentum and a Cohen three-pointer with 11:11 remaining brought the Sagehens within one possession of their hosts. Redlands responded with a seven-point run to put the game out of reach for P-P.
“Once we got going, we ended up pulling it to within three, but give them credit, they made big plays down the stretch to seal the win,” said McAndrews. “They are an experienced team that is going to make a lot of noise in SCIAC.”
Klewer starred in the loss. McAndrews paced the Sagehens with 14 points, while Cohen dished out six assists.
The victory against Cal Lutheran restores the Sagehens’ winning record in SCIAC, placing them tied for third in the conference behind the undefeated Bulldogs and CMS. The Sagehens have high hopes for the season.
“As always, the goal is to win a SCIAC title. We have a lot of returners from last year, and hopefully with this experience and hard work we can give it a good run,” McAndrews said.
The win against Cal Lutheran puts P-P back on track to possibly achieve this aspiration.
Pomona-Pitzer returns to action on Saturday against the La Verne Leopards who are 0-2 thus far in SCIAC play.