With 1:18 remaining in the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s basketball team’s matchup against Cal Lutheran (12-10, 7-6 SCIAC) Feb. 5, the Athenas (19-3, 12-1) held a narrow 50-49 lead. All they had to do was play tight defense and stop one last play.
But with just 17 seconds remaining, Cal Lutheran’s Kayla Watterson made a layup from an impossible angle, giving the Regals a 50-51 lead.
The Athenas hadn’t given up yet. They failed to score on the following possession, but quickly snatched the ball back and called a timeout. CMS had just under 10 seconds to determine whether they would leave Roberts Pavilion forlorn or ecstatic.
Out of the timeout, Corrine Bogle CM ’18 passed the ball down the left side of the court to Ellery Koelker-Wolfe CM ’19, who charged to the left edge of the key. Koelker-Wolfe swung the ball to Maya Love CM ’20, who scored the winning layup with a second left on the clock, and Roberts Pavilion erupted in a deafening celebration.
From the first jump ball, the game was incredibly close — if one team pulled ahead, the other would put together a spectacular run. Every quarter ended in either a tie or a difference of just one point.
Cal Lutheran led 24-23 at the half, but the third quarter saw an increase in scoring and even more lead switches — CMS held a 41-40 lead going into the final quarter.
This type of play set the stage for the Athenas’ dramatic win, as the matchup came down to the final moment.
As the clock dwindled to zero, relief was evident on the faces of the Athenas, who emerged victorious from an excruciatingly tense matchup.
The win over Cal Lutheran continued an impressive SCIAC season for CMS, whose only conference loss came at SCIAC-leading Chapman Jan. 13.
“This win means that we’ve clearly established ourselves as second in SCIAC,” Love said. “We’re coming after Chapman pretty hard. Each game is gonna be scrappy like that one because there are a lot teams close to that fourth-place spot so we’ve just gotta keep on playing hard and playing together.”
The Athenas will likely have a chance to pull into first place if they can defeat the Panthers at home Feb. 17.
However, as coach Kristen Dowling pointed out, the Athenas’ main focus is the SCIAC tournament, where they will compete for an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
“We’re playing each game a day at a time,” Dowling said. “This win is great because we got better today. Every game is an opportunity to get better in preparation for the conference tournament.”