CLAREMONT, Calif. – The top-seeded Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's basketball team is headed to the SCIAC Tournament Championship Game after defeating the No. 4-seeded Chapman Panthers on Friday night 83-72. The Stags will face their rivals from across the street, the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens, on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. in Roberts Pavilion in a battle for the SCIAC Tournament Title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Saturday's meeting will be the fifth time the two rivals have met in the Tournament Championship game. CMS will be making their ninth trip to the title game in its 11-year existence.
The Stags punched their ticket to the title game thanks to a team effort on Friday night against Chapman. Paced by Scott Lynds' (CMC) 19 points, four Stags went for double-digits in the 11-point victory. Michael Scarlett (CMC) and Kendrick Morris (CMC) went for 17 and 14, respectively, and Jack Ely (CMC) stuffed the box score with 16 points, six rebounds, and six assists.
Ely found Morris on the game's opening possession with a no look pass for an easy layup to get the game started. Chapman then jumped in front with a three from Tyler Green and held the lead for the majority of the opening period. A three-pointer from Green with 7:53 remaining in the half gave the Panthers their largest lead of the game at 26-21.
Despite the Panthers sitting in the driver's seat for the majority of the half, back-to-back threes from Lynds and Ely put the Stags in front 27-26 with 5:50 to go in the period. The Panthers hung around and regained the lead at 34-33 with 2:54 left in the half. Ely answered back with a jumper to flip the lead and put CMS in front thirty seconds later. A pair of free throws from Scarlett and a layup from Miles President (HMC) gave the Stags a 41-37 lead heading into the half.
Chapman quickly erased the four-point halftime lead with a six-point run to take a 43-41 lead just moments into the half. Ely tied the game at 43 apiece with a layup at 17:12. With 15:43 to go, Lynds drained a three from deep to spark a 10-1 run. The stretch was capped off by a triple from President with 13:09 remaining in the game. Following the run, CMS held a 10-point advantage at 55-45.
The Panthers trimmed the CMS lead down to six points at 57-51 before Ely jump-started a 9-2 CMS run with a layup at 11:04. After a free throw from President with 8:28 remaining in the game, CMS held a 66-53 advantage. Just two minutes later the Stags held their largest lead of the game when Lynds knocked down a jumper to push the cushion to 16 points at 71-55.
The Stags hung onto a lead of at least nine for the remainder of the game, finishing the contest with an 83-72 victory.
CMS was on fire from downtown, shooting at a 62.5% clip from behind the arc. The Stags went 10-16 as a team. Lynds went a perfect 3-3, Scarlett added three of his own, and President and Ely each chipped in two.
As mentioned, The Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens won the other SCIAC Semifinal contest and will make the short trip across the street for the SCIAC Tournament Championship Game. The No. 3 Sagehens upset the No. 2 Occidental Tigers 71-60 on Friday night. The title game will be part of a doubleheader in Roberts Pavilion on Saturday night. The Athenas will host the Chapman Panthers at 5:00 p.m. before the Stags and Sagehens will square off at 7:30 p.m.
Live stats and video for the game can be found at portal.stretchinternet.com/sciac/.