CMS overcame an 11-point first half deficit and avenged their only loss of the season with a 65-64 win over Whittier on Saturday night. The Stags improved to 19-1 overall and 8-1 in SCIAC.
Whittier came into Ducey Gym with high hopes. At 14-6 overall and 6-2 in SCIAC entering the game, they were in charge of their own destiny. With a victory, they would be tied with CMS atop the SCIAC standing and hold the tiebreaker. Things looked good for the Poets early as they were able to capitalize on several turnovers to take a commanding 12-2 lead which they eventually stretched to 23-12. The Stags began their comeback after a timeout and switched out of their normal man to man defense and into a zone. For the remainder of the game they consistently switched up their defense and this appeared to limit Whittier's shooting on the outside; in the first half Whittier was 6-13 from the three-point line, in the second half they were only 1-6. CMS was able to cut the lead to one late in the first half and the teams entered halftime with Whittier winning 35-33.
CMS went down 45-38 early in the second half, but responded with an 11-1 run capped by a Jack Grodahl (pictured) three that gave them their first lead at 49-46. The game remained close throughout the rest of the game, however, as there were six ties and three lead changes in the half. Chris Blees hit a free throw with 23 seconds remaining to give the Stags a 65-64 lead. Whittier's Nathan Easterman, who led the Poets with 23 points, had a shot to win the game, but he missed a close shot with one second remaining and CMS held on for the win.
In the teams' first matchup, Whittier shot over 15 times more than CMS. This game, however, CMS outshot Whittier in all phases of the game, shooting more field goals, three-pointers, and free throws. CMS dropped Whittier's record to 1-4 in games in which they score less than 73 points.
Grodahl led the Stags with 14 points off the bench. Tyler Gaffaney had 13 points and four assists and Blees had 12 points and four assists. Mani Maceira led the team with seven rebounds. Easterman led the Poets in scoring and rebounds (eight).
CMS holds a one-game lead over Pomona-Pitzer in the SCIAC standings with five games remaining. The rest of their schedule certainly isn't easy. They follow this week's home game against Caltech with a three straight away games against Redlands, Cal Lutheran and Occidental. They conclude the season with a home game against Pomona-Pitzer.
Their next game is on February 8 at 7:30 against Caltech at Ducey Gym.