CLAREMONT, Calif. – The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's basketball team led the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen 36-31 at the half, but a fast start to the second stanza quickly pushed the Stags lead up 52-33. The Kingsmen battled back and closed the gap to as few as five points late in the contest, but the Stags held on for the 80-72 victory to improve to 3-1 in the SCIAC.
It was a historic night for Michael Scarlett (CMC). The senior guard led the Stags offensively with 21 points and collected his 1,000th career point with a free throw late in the second-half. Along with Scarlett's 21, Scott Lynds (CMC), Miles President (HMC), and Kendrick Morris (CMC) each scored 14 points in the game to help the Stags to victory.
The contest was a low-scoring and physical affair at the start. CMS held a slim, 16-10 lead after the opening 10 minutes, but the Kingsmen closed the gap to two at 18-16 just moments later. A beautiful dish from Jack Ely (CMC) to Kendrick Morris in the lane set Morris up for an open two-handed slam to put the Stags up four.
The momentum from the dunk was short-lived as back-to-back buckets from Cal Lutheran's KJ Moffett tied the game at 20-20 just a minute later. The two buckets were part of a career night for the senior guard. Moffett dropped a career-high 30 points on a 13-16 shooting performance in the game.
Cal Lutheran briefly took a lead at 22-20, but the Stags used consecutive layups from Mark Sui (CMC), Jermey Horn (CMC), and Scarlett to take the lead back at 26-22. Scoring started picking up toward the end of the half with the two teams accounting for 19 points in the final three minutes leading into the half.
A pair of free throws from Moffett once again tied the game at 31-31 with a minute remaining in the half. A jumper from Scarlett and a pull-up three from way downtown by Lynds ended the half and gave the Stags a 36-31 lead at the break.
Following the break, the Stags' offense went crazy in the opening minutes of the second-half. CMS scored the first 12 points of the half and eventually took a 52-33 lead after a 16-2 run to start the period. Cal Lutheran was held to a pair of free throws in the first 5:45 of the half as the Stags built their cushion.
Roles were reversed almost immediately as the Kingsmen went on a 10-0 run to chop the Stags' lead down to 52-43 less than three minutes after their first field goal of the half. The Stags got their legs back under themselves and a three-point play from Miles President pushed the CMS lead back to 16 points with 9:20 remaining in the game.
The CMS lead held steady for the next five minutes and the Stags led by 14 with under five minutes remaining, but Cal Lutheran would not go down without a fight.
Following a Jack Ely layup with 2:54 remaining, the Kingsmen trailed 70-57. Sixty-three seconds later, the Kingsmen had cut the lead down to seven points after an 8-2 run. Cal Lutheran continued to battle and eventually closed within five points at 75-70 with 43 seconds left. The Stags held off the late rally by going 5-6 from the free throw line in the final 30 seconds to secure the 80-72 victory.
The victory moves the Stags to 5-7 overall and, more importantly, to 3-1 in the SCIAC. CMS will next take the court on Saturday when they travel to Chapman. Game time slated for 2:00 p.m.