Hens Catch Fire After Cold Winter Break

The
Pomona-Pitzer men’s basketball team’s recent momentum in SCIAC play was halted Feb. 3 as a late comeback effort fell just
short on the road at California Lutheran University. Guard Kyle McAndrews PO ’15 and guard Michael Cohen PO
’15 were once again among the top performers for P-P (6-13, 4-6 SCIAC),
notching 26 and 15 points, respectively, but the Cal Lu Kingsmen held on for a 63-61 finish after the visitors failed to convert a last-minute buzzer beater. 

Despite the loss, the Hens’ spirits remain high.

“It was a tough game on the road against a good team and sometimes the ball doesn’t roll your way,” guard Tommy Erb PO ’18 said. “However, I feel we are still moving in the right direction.”

The loss snapped
a four-game winning streak for the Sagehens, who looked to be rebounding after
a disappointing run over winter break. Having started the season
with a 2-1 record, P-P lost 11 straight games from Nov. 29 to
Jan. 17. The team was fairly competitive in almost all of the
defeats, but often couldn’t find the last burst of energy to pull itself over the line, a consequence of a widespread series of injuries that have
affected the team’s ability to play with a full squad. 

Just when the season seemed in danger of petering out, however, P-P was able to gain some
measure of confidence back as they returned to winning ways. After a month on
the sideline, Cohen returned to action in the Jan. 20 home game
against University of Redlands, proceeding to notch a game-high 21 points in a tight 54-52
win for the Sagehens.

“I think it was a combination
of a lot of different factors that sparked the end of the losing streak,” forward Gibson Farone-Collins PO ’16 said. “So
many of those losses were close games, and I think they gave us a lot of good
experience that we drew on in these more recent games. In addition, getting
people healthy was a huge coup.”

Having snapped the losing run, P-P headed into the Sixth Street Rivalry game with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Jan. 25 with their tails up. In
a thrilling encounter that was tight from the very first whistle, the Sagehens
finally saw some late luck break their way. With 5.4 seconds left on the clock and CMS up 57-55, McAndrews converted an acrobatic shot in the lane while
drawing a foul. The senior kept his composure on the resulting free throw, sinking
the basket as P-P downed its rivals 58-57 and celebrated with the Sagehen students rushing the court.

“The CMS game was definitely the coolest game I have ever been a part of,” Erb said. “To see the support we have from our student body and the passion and desire that drove us to victory was truly inspiring. It was definitely an amazing atmosphere and an incredible finish.”

P-P’s next game was a
slightly more comfortable affair. On the road at the California Institute of Technology, the Sagehens opened
up a 16-point lead at halftime, and rode out the second half to a
straightforward 63-55 win. Guard Joe Eyen PZ ’15 notched 17 points, as did fellow
senior Cohen, to make it three wins in a row for P-P ahead of a home showdown
against Chapman, ranked No. 15 in the nation heading into the Feb. 1 encounter. 

After taking a 38-29 lead into halftime, the Sagehens
found themselves pegged back by the visitors, despite a powerful 26-point
performance from Cohen. The game headed into overtime after regulation saw the teams
all square on 72 points each, and a second OT period was needed to eventually
separate the teams. A jumper from guard Adrian Brandon PZ ’15 late in the second overtime proved to be the
difference-maker.

“The Chapman win was another
big one for us,” Farone-Collins said. “I was really proud of the resilience that the team showed after
Chapman rallied to tie it up late.”

The most recent Cal Lu result notwithstanding, the
Sagehens look to have rediscovered some of the confidence that comes with
winning tight games, and look well positioned to better their record ahead of
the SCIAC postseason tournament. P-P hopes to keep competing on their road to the playoffs.

“We simply try to compete at a high level day in and day out,” Earl Schultz PZ ’18 said. “We hope to stay solid.”

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