Despite First Loss, Sagehens Ready for Top Season in SCIAC

As the heat slowly departs from
campus and snow begins to appear on the top of Mt. Baldy, winter is arriving in
Claremont, which signals the start of a new season for the Pomona-Pitzer men’s basketball team. 

The Sagehens traveled to Oceanside on the night of Tuesday, Nov. 11, to face off against
Division II California State University, San Marcos (CSUSM), who brought tough competition for P-P.
CSUSM fought off an early surge from P-P and opened the game up to a 14-point lead at halftime, eventually cruising to an 87-60 win against the
Sagehens. The game, played as an exhibition, still leaves the Sagehens’ record
at 0-0 for the season.

The
Sagehens led by as many as five points in the first few minutes of the game after Kyle
McAndrews PO ’15 and Adrian Brandon PZ ’15 hit back-to-back threes. However,
five minutes into the game, CSUSM turned the contest around and began a 13-1
run. By halftime, it was the Sagehen seniors leading the team as McAndrews had eight points and Joe Eyen PZ ’15 had five.

In the second half, CSUSM was able to keep its lead and
slowly build on it, not allowing the Hens to narrow the gap at all. McAndrews
was virtually shut down by a strong CSUSM defense in the second half, scoring only two points on two shots. Hunter Lowry PZ ’18 led the Hens in the
second half with nine points, hitting two three-pointers in only seven minutes of
play. Though the team was shooting 55 percent from the field in the second half, well above the
37 percent they shot in the first half, the Hens couldn’t catch up to CSUSM and dropped the contest.

Despite the loss, the Hens drew some lessons from the game and saw it as a learning experience.

“I think we can draw some positives from the game
tonight,” Gibson Farone-Collins PO ’16 said. “The team we played was
bigger and more athletic than us, and that step up physically exposed some of
our weaknesses that may not be as apparent during practice.”

Farone-Collins also noted the Sagehens’ improvement in the second half of the game and discussed some areas that need improvement.

“I thought we had stretches
where we executed well offensively tonight,” Farone-Collins said. “Especially in the second half, we
generated some pretty good shots at the rim, and our shooting percentage echoed
that. On the negative side, we were out-rebounded by a large margin, and that is
definitely something we will work on as a team as the season progresses.”

McAndrews, who led the team with
10 points, will be tasked with leading the Hens this year after
earning First-Team All-SCIAC honors last year in his junior season. The Hens
also have Michael Cohen PO ’15 returning for his senior season, who played
alongside McAndrews at guard for much of the season. These two represented the
top two scorers from last year’s squad, and the Hens are looking forward to
having them back.

In addition to veteran returners, P-P is also welcoming in a large first-year class. The new class consists of Jonathan King PO ’18 and Earl Schultz PZ ’18 from Chicago, Ill., Peter Atkin PO ’18 from New York, N.Y., Tommy Erb PO ’18 from San Diego,
Calif., Hunter Lowry PZ ’18 from Tucson, Ariz., Spencer Schwartz PZ ’18 from Santa
Cruz, Calif., Glenn Leininger PZ ’18 from St. Helena, Calif. and Grant Steele
PO ’18 from Minnetonka, Minn.

“We have a big
freshman class this year,” Reid Callan PO ’16 said. “There’s going to
be a good opportunity for some minutes from those guys. We also have a strong
group of returners, and I know the young guys are going to be working hard to
step into the roles of the guys who graduated last year.” 

The
Hens play their first game at home Tuesday, Nov. 18, against
Biola University. After facing Biola, P-P will play eight more non-conference games through November
and December before starting SCIAC play on Saturday, Jan. 3, at Occidental College.
SCIAC play will run through late February, during which the Hens
will battle for a spot in the SCIAC tournament. 

The first game against rival Claremont-Mudd-Scripps will
occur at home in Voelkel Gymnasium on Saturday, Jan. 24. The second will be Tuesday, Feb. 17, and is again at Voelkel Gymnasium due to construction of CMS’ new athletic facility, but the Hens will play as the away team.

After a disappointing loss to Chapman University in the SCIAC semifinals last season, the Sagehens are looking to step it up and contend for a SCIAC championship in 2014-2015.

“We’re
really excited for the season this year,” Callan said. “We are aiming
to be right back at the top of SCIAC, just like we have in previous
years.”

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