Stags Earn Redemption, Smack Down Sagehens

In an epic rematch on Feb. 17, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s basketball team (17-6, 10-4 SCIAC) came out on top of their Sixth Street rival Pomona-Pitzer (9-14, 7-7 SCIAC) 67-49.

“We played our best game of the season last night,” guard Jack Grodahl CM ’15 said. “Offensively, guys played confident and loose; there was not really any hesitation from anyone.”

CMS started the game strong, scoring six points within the first minute-and-a-half after guards Tyler Gaffaney CGU and Jack Earley CM ’15 nailed two consecutive three-pointers.

The Stags continued their aggressive offensive attack, but the Sagehens kept the game tight in the first half. Guard Michael Cohen PO ’15 scored 10 points before the half to get P-P back within 36-30.  

Although P-P did not bring home the win, Cohen had a monumental night, collecting 16 points to improve his four-year career total to 996, earning him a spot on the D3hoops.com National Team of the Week. McAndrews scored the first basket of the second half, helping P-P inch within four points of the Stags at 36-32. Gaffaney answered right back with a bucket for CMS and forward Jason Harrington CM ’16 followed it up by sinking one more on CMS’ next possession.

Over the next 10 minutes of the game, CMS took offensive and defensive control of the game, scoring 23 points and stretching their lead to 63-37 at the eight-minute mark.

“The Stags really took care of the ball, committing only three turnovers for the game,” head coach Ken Scalmanini said. “We played tremendous team defense against a very good offensive team. We also won the rebounding battle by collecting 11 offensive boards.”

McAndrews nailed a three-pointer to end the drought of over nine minutes for the Sagehens. But P-P could not overcome the gaping deficit after CMS pulled away for a 27-5 run, and the Stags eventually took home the victory.

CMS and P-P have now split the season series after the Sagehens pocketed the win in the last Sixth Street clash Jan. 24, with McAndrews completing a three-point play with five seconds left. Tuesday’s victory, though, propelled the Stags into a tie for second place in SCIAC with Chapman University (18-4, 10-4 SCIAC), while P-P remains in fifth place, just one game behind Whittier College (14-9, 8-6 SCIAC) for the all-important fourth spot that earns the final SCIAC tournament bid.

With only two games left in the conference schedule, P-P is is looking to tap into the stamina that has propelled them through their season in their upcoming games.

“We are pretty set in the way we want to play,” coach Charles Katsiaficas said. “At this point it’s important to stay sharp and maintain our execution.”

The Sagehens remain in control of their destiny in the conference, but need to defeat the University of Redlands (6-17, 3-11 SCIAC) Feb. 21 in order to remain in contention.

“Our team has been playing great basketball through the second half of SCIAC play,” McAndrews said. “We are excited to play Redlands; they are a good opponent, and it will be a good challenge for us.”

CMS will also take the court next Saturday against California Lutheran University (11-2, 17-4 SCIAC)  at 7 p.m. for Senior Night, a game that will determine the seeding in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament. With recent wins under their belt, the Stags head positively into the high-pressure game.

“The last game built a lot of confidence in us,” Grodahl said. “To see the team click on both ends of the floor like that was a lot of fun. When we are playing like that, we have the potential to be a very good team.”

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