CLAREMONT, Calif. – For the first time in Claremont-Mudd-Scripps history, both the Stags and Athenas won the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Postseason Tournament on their home court. The Stags came away with the 77-71 victory over Cal Lutheran on Saturday night in Roberts Pavilion for the program's fifth tournament championship, earning the automatic qualification to the NCAA Tournament next weekend.
Watch the DIII Men's Basketball Selection Show on Monday morning at 9:30 a.m. PST to find out where CMS will go for the Regional.
Head coach Ken Scalmanini commended the team's resilience saying: "a lot of different guys stepped up and played different roles and I'm so proud of them.… I think we're playing our best basketball since losing Scott [Lynds]."
Despite starting off the game playing catchup with the Kingsmen, the Stags were moving the ball and took well-intentioned shots that were not falling. With five minutes left in the first period, senior Michael Scarlett (CMC) hit a 3-pointer that sparked a 15-2 run for the Stags.
Then, junior Kendrick Morris (CMC) went to work in the post. The Stags took the first lead of the game at 24-23 off a layup by Morris. Two more baskets by the big man put CMS up 28-25. During the run, CMS found success inside. Layups by senior Riley Hall (CMC) and sophomore Evan Davis (CMC) kept CMS going until they had gathered a nine-point lead in just three minutes of work.
At the break, CMS held the 39-29 lead with Scarlett already at 15 points.
The pace picked up at the start of the second period. The teams traded baskets as CLU's Wolfgang Wood got hot. Coming into the night, Wood led the Kingsmen averaging 19.1 points per game, but the Stags limited him to just 12.
Cal Lutheran scored four points in a row to come within striking distance of the Stags. After a strategic timeout for CMS, Hall came flying through the air for a tip-in off the inbounds pass to give the Stags the 48-42 lead. Plagued by fouls, CMS saw its lead dwindle and then the Kingsmen took their own lead with a quick 3-pointer from Adrian Francis from a pass by Caleb Richey.
CMS broke the drought with a free throw by sophomore Patrick Myers (CMC) and a pair from Scarlett. CLU sent the Stags to the line for 20 free throws in the second half.
The Stags nabbed another lead when Hall drove in for a layup while getting fouled. He converted the and-one to give CMS the 57-56 lead.
Freshman starter Miles President (HMC) dazzled the crowd, scoring the next eight points on his own, plus a big block on Francis going for a layup. He could not be stopped driving to the rim. Twice President was fouled while still scoring the basket and was good on four shots from the foul line during that time.
The Kingsmen kept it close throughout and even tied it at 67-67 with a big three by Francis. Scarlett fed Morris in the post for a layup to go up by two. A handful of free throws later, CLU trailed the Stags by a point but were then called for an offensive foul while driving to the hoop. The Kingsmen resorted to fouls, but Scarlett and Hall drained all four attempts from the line.
The Stags forced a turnover in CLU's final possession and then Hall assisted Morris at the rim to seal the deal. With the 77-71 victory, CMS is headed the NCAA tournament.
By Emily Nordhoff
Sports Information Director
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