CMS beat Azusa Pacific, the #1 team in the NAIA, 81-79 on Tuesday. The Stags ended the Cougars 42-game winning streak against Division III teams that began after CMS' last win over Azusa Pacific in 1990. The game, played at Azusa's Felix Event Center, was the season opener for both teams.
The Stags fell behind early as the Cougars jumped out to 9-0 and 15-4 leads. CMS battled back and cut the deficit to three, but Azusa pushed the lead back to 14 with under two minutes remaining in the first half. CMS responded with a 6-0 run, but Azusa again responded with a layup just before the buzzer which made the halftime score 44-34.
CMS cut into the lead several times in the second half whittling the margin down. A turning point came with just under six minutes remaining. CMS had cut the lead to three when Azusa made two straight layups including one off a steal by Dallas Rutherford. Rutherford taunted CMS' Chris Blees (SR, Carmichael [pictured left]) as he ran back down the court and was called for a technical foul. Blees made both free throws and the Stags scored on the ensuing possession. The four-point swing sparked a game-ending 17-8 Stag run.
Remy Pinson (FR, Rye, NY [pictured right]) made two big three's in his first collegiate game. The first gave CMS its first lead with 3:26 remaining and the second gave the Stags a lead they would not relinquish with two minutes remaining. APU tied the game with under 30 seconds left. Blees drove to the basket with 10 seconds left and was fouled. He made both free throws for the final margin as a running Cougar jumper at the horn banged off the rim.
Blees, two-time SCIAC Player of the Year and a d3hoops.com Pre-Season All-American selection, was outstanding especially in the second half. He scored 20 of his game-high 25 points in the second 20 minutes. He also added a team-high six rebounds. Pinson finished with 13 points and was 3-4 from three-point distance. Shane Davis (SR, Vashon, WA) added 11 points. Tyler Gaffaney (FR, Mill Valley) had the most assists for either team with five.
CMS plays again this Saturday, November 20 at NAIA #5 Concordia University. Game time is 7:30. The team's first home game will be Friday, November 26 at 7:30 pm against Trinity University (TX).