The Pomona-Pitzer men’s basketball team (18-7, 13-3 SCIAC) ended its regular season with a win against Occidental College last Saturday, Feb. 22. After honoring the seniors and graduate students, the Sagehens came out strong and never looked back as they defeated the Tigers 63-53. With the win, the Sagehens earned the No. 2 seed in this weekend’s SCIAC tournament. P-P will host Chapman University in the semifinals at Pomona College’s Rains Center tonight, Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m.
“We feel good ending the season with a win, and obviously for those seniors, you’d like to see them go out on a positive note,” head coach Charles Katsiaficas said. “I thought it was a very important game for us to continue to carry forward our momentum in preparation for this weekend’s tournament.”
After being honored on Senior Night, P-P’s Xavyr Moss CGU started the game with two three-pointers for the Sagehens to put them up 6-2. Kyle McAndrews PO ’15 followed with another three-point basket to keep the streak going. After two more baskets inside the paint, the Sagehens led 13-6. However, two turnovers and a foul narrowed the margin to 13-10.
With eight minutes left in the half, P-P went on a 7-0 run. The run came to an end as Oxy’s Joe Compagno hit a three, but this did not kill P-P’s momentum.
The Sagehens responded with three free throws and a clutch jumper by starting forward John Weiss PO ’14 to put them up 25-14. The Sagehens’ stingy defense held Oxy to only 18 points in the first half, allowing the Hens to go into halftime up 26-18.
The beginning of the second half started with both teams coming out with a fast tempo on offense. Oxy scored just eight seconds into the half, which was followed by two free throws by Jake Klewer PO ’14. The Tigers answered with a three-pointer to pull them within five, but Nick Nordale PZ ’17 drained a three in P-P’s next possession to put the Sagehens up 31-23.
After the fast-paced opening by both teams, Oxy could not sustain its offensive production or find an answer to Weiss. The senior, honored earlier in the night, scored on three straight layups as he could not be stopped down low by the Tigers’ outmatched defenders. The three baskets by Weiss put the Sagehens up 37-27. After two more buckets by the Sagehens, they had their largest lead of the night, going up by 12.
However, the Tigers did not back down, and made the game interesting halfway through the second period. A three-pointer, followed by back-to-back jump shots, pulled Oxy within seven points. With about 12 minutes left in the game, another three-point basket by Compagno pulled his team within six points, making the score 45-39.
Another jumper by Oxy’s Andrew Johnson made the score 47-43 with less than eight minutes to go in the game. Just when it looked like Oxy could get back into the game, Moss nailed another three to put the Sagehens back up by seven. P-P never looked back from there. Klewer followed Moss’s three with four points of his own to put P-P up by a score of 54-43. In the final three minutes, McAndrews sealed the game for the Sagehens by scoring the team’s final seven points. The game ended with a final score of 63-53.
Starting senior forwards Weiss and Klewer each had good games to end P-P’s regular season. Weiss had eight points and seven rebounds, and Klewer contributed 10 points and also had seven rebounds. Moss came up big, hitting three three-pointers that added to his 11 points that night. McAndrews led the way for the Sagehens with 17 points, and ended the regular season just three points shy of totaling 1,000 points in his career with one more full season before he graduates.
“I was very pleased with the way we played throughout the conference schedule,” Katsiaficas said. “It was a very competitive year in this league, and I think our guys rose to the challenge and the occasion, night in and night out.”
The Sagehens lost their last matchup with Chapman 55-49, but won their first game against them in double overtime earlier this season. If P-P advances from the semifinals, they will face the winner of the other semifinal game, either Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, or California Lutheran University, the No. 4 seed.
“The two games we’ve had with [Chapman] have both been very tight, so I expect a similar scenario [tonight],” Katsiaficas said.