Stags Win SCIAC Tournament Title
CMS beat Pomona-Pitzer 60-54 at home on Saturday night to win the SCIAC Tournament Championship. The Stags (25-2) earned the SCIAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Championships with the victory while the Sagehens fell to 16-10. The teams have faced each other in the championship game four times in the five year history of the tournament and this was the third win for CMS.
As they did in last night's semifinal, the Stags fell behind by five points early in the game before going on offensive run to take a lead they would not lose. Neither team shot well in the first half with the Sagehens shooting 35% and the Stags shooting 32%, but CMS was more successful from beyond the arc (four made to one for Pomona-Pitzer) and from the line (3-3 vs. 0-2) and held a 21-17 lead at the break.
CMS' offense heated up in the second half and the Stags built a 43-27 after a Tyler Gaffaney three with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game and looked to be in control. Pomona-Pitzer responded with an 14-2 that cut the lead to four and it looked like another Stag-Sagehen game would come down to the wire. The teams had met twice this season with CMS winning at Pomona-Pitzer by two in January and Pomona-Pitzer winning at CMS by one just five days ago. A CMS three by Remy Pinson put the Stags up seven with 1:37 remaining, but Pomona-Pitzer hit back-to-back shots to cut the lead to two with 40 seconds left. The Sagehens chose to start fouling and the Stags, who only shot 62% from the line in SCIAC play, hit five of six to close out the game.
Tyler Gaffaney led the Stags with 16 points on a perfect shooting night (5-5 overall, 3-3 on threes and from the line) and also shared the team lead with six rebounds. Kevin Sullivan, who scored 10 points off the bench, was the only other Stag in double figures. CMS' leading scorers, Chris Blees and Mani Maceira, had off shooting nights and were only 2-16 combined from the field, but Blees had five rebounds and three assists and Maceira had six rebounds. Pinson had five assists and no turnovers in the game. Joey Anderson scored all three of his points in the final three minutes and blocked a Sagehen shot with 33 seconds left and CMS up by three.
Pomona-Pitzer did not have any players score in double-figures as Jake Klewer and Po Grant led them with nine points. Klewer led the Hens with seven rebounds, Evan Zahniser had a team-high three assists and John Weiss a game-high three steals.
CMS advances to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the 11th time and the third time in the last four years. They will find out who and where they are playing on Monday.