Jai Dungca CM ’17 sealed the deal with two seemingly effortless free throws to cement a 46-35 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas basketball victory over their Sixth Street rivals, the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens, on Saturday, Jan. 28. With this momentous win, not only will CMS hold onto their first place spot in the SCIAC Conference, as they are currently 8-2 in season, but the Athenas will be able to celebrate their eighth straight victory in four years over their Sixth Street rivals.
The CMS squad played confidently, with zero lead changes and a consistent cushion of about 10 points the entire game.
“The beginning is what set us apart … we came out really strong the first couple plays,” said captain Jai Dungca CM ’17. “Kris [Brackmann CM ’17] had the first seven points of the game, so getting the ball to her was crucial.”
Captain Aly Young CM ’17 did credit the Sagehens with doing their research on how to beat a formidable CMS team.
“They came out, they scouted us, they did everything they could to come at us,” she said. They did a really good job.”
Alaina Woo PO ’18 was crucial for the Sagehens and gave the Athenas a run for their money, scoring 10 points by herself.
“We definitely outsize [the Sagehens], so crashing the boards and getting rebounds was something we knew we could control,” Dungca said.
Claire Donnelly CM ’17 said that while her CMS team might have had a tough game offensively (shooting 39.6 percent of field goals), “having prioritized a defensive game … is crucial to being able to pull through and offset the offensive game.”
Senior forward Donnelly added: “Playing Pomona is always really exciting. We treat each game the same and prepare hard for all of them, but this rivalry game is always a fun atmosphere and has an extra air of excitement to it. We were happy to pull out the W.”
With only six games and 23 guaranteed days of seasonal play left, the Athenas are running hard into the home stretch. With the majority of the roster spots taken by seniors and first-years, the seasoned saying ‘out with the old and in with the new’ has bittersweet meaning for the CMS team.
“We have a really confident, strong, and capable freshmen class,” Young said.
Donnelly added: “Everyone brings something different to the team … We’re all close, so at the end of the day we can play well together and have fun.”
Part of having fun for this strong Athena squad is continuing their SCIAC Championship streak. They’ve won the conference the past three years in a row, and “the ultimate goal this year for sure is to win SCIAC,” said Young.
In their next game, the CMS Athenas will play the Whittier College Poets at home at Roberts Pavilion on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 5 p.m. You won’t want to miss watching these superstars in their element.