After coming off two screens in the top of the key against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (8-10, 3-7 SCIAC), Jack Gale PO ’18 saw an open shot from behind the three-point line. Up 32-21 over the Stags with 14 minutes remaining in the second half, Gale boldly took the shot, hoping to extend his team’s lead to 14 points. After a shaky first half, the Pomona-Pitzer men’s basketball team finally found its groove, winning 53-43 by continuously sinking threes throughout the second half.
Gale’s shot was no exception, representing the Sagehens’ offensive dominance against the Stags on Monday, Jan. 25. The shot sent P-P’s crowd to its feet in a roaring ovation, and solidified the Sagehens’ momentum over CMS.
Returning players like Gibson Farone-Collins PO ’16 knew the pressures of playing their SCIAC rivals. “The CMS game is always such an exciting game; there’s so much energy in the room. You can get frantic and out of control just because it’s so exciting,” Gibson said.
With nerves running high, both CMS and P-P's offenses started slow: The Stags shot 20.7% while the Sagehens shot 24% from the field. After leading 16-9 with six minutes remaining in the first half, the Stags scored five consecutive points to end the first half down by two, and close the lead to 16-14.
Though the momentum shifted in CMS’s favor come the beginning of the second half, the Sagehens maintained their composure. “Our coach is a big believer in the first four minutes of the half, and the first four minutes of the game,” guard Daniel Rosenbaum PO ’19 said. “We knew we had to come out and set a tone for the rest of the second half. They took the first punch, but we took it very well and came right back at them.”
The Sagehens did just that: Three minutes into the second half, P-P scored 15 consecutive points to extend the lead 37-21.
Farone-Collins led the charge for the Sagehens with14 points, with additional contributions from Rosenbaum and Chris Wright PO ’19 with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Jason Harrington CM ’16 scored 11 points for the Stags, while Jack Earley CM '16 and Shelby Lane CM '16 each added nine rebounds to give the Stags a defensive edge.
One of CMS’s most effective tactics was utilizing the shot clock, eventually slowing down the flow of the game to maintain maximum possession.
“They really use the whole shot clock on offense,” Rosenbaum said. However, the Sagehens adjusted to the Stags’ offensive flow and out-rebounded the Stags 41-37. “We just wanted to play good defense the entire shot clock and not let them get any easy shots, and make them work for everything,” he said.
Despite coming up short against the Sagehens, the Stags wasted no time recovering. Since facing P-P, CMS is 2-1 with dominant wins against California Lutheran University and California Institute of Technology, 62-54 and 61-45, respectively. Both teams were handed losses this week from Whittier College, who is ranked No. 2 in the SCIAC standings.
Going forward, both P-P and CMS hope to compete in the SCIAC playoffs starting Feb. 26. With six games left for each team in the regular season, the Sagehens and Stags will face tough competition: CMS plays at Occidental College this Saturday, Feb. 6, and at University of La Verne on Wednesday, Feb. 10. P-P will face Chapman University, currently ranked No. 1 in SCIAC, on Saturday, and Cal Lutheran on Wednesday.
The rivals will have their final showdown of the season on Monday, Feb. 15, at Rains. “I’d heard a lot about the game against CMS, and it definitely lived up to all the expectations,” Rosenbaum said. “It was such a fun environment to play in, with both teams really going at it. I think you could see the intensity that both teams brought to the game.”
The two teams will no doubt play with that same intensity for the remainder of the season, especially when playing each other.