For Second-Straight Year, Stags Battle No. 2 Whitworth to Open NCAA Tourney

For Second-Straight Year, Stags Battle No. 2 Whitworth to Open NCAA Tourney

2018 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Bracket  |  Stags Season Review Program

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's basketball team is making their second-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and 14th appearance in program history. Just like last season, this year's journey begins in Walla Walla, Wash. on the campus of Whitman University with one of the toughest pods in the country. The grouping features three of the same teams as last year's First and Second Round including the No. 1 Whitman Blues and the No. 2 Whitworth Pirates. Along with the Stags, the Schreiner Pirates round out the group of four teams in Walla Walla for the weekend.

The Stags square off with the No. 2 Whitworth Pirates in the First Round on Friday evening at 5:30 p.m. PT. The game is a rematch of last year's First Round match-up, when the Stags earned a 78-73 victory for the chance to square-off with the Whitman Blues. Much like last year, the winner of CMS vs. Whitworth will take on the winner of No. 1 Whitman vs. Schreiner on Saturday evening in the Second Round with a trip to the Sweet Sixteen on the line.

See below for a snapshot of the four teams in Walla Walla this weekend:


Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags

Location: Claremont, Calif.

Head Coach: Ken Scalmanini (20th Season)

NCAA Appearances: 14th

2017-18 Record: 19-7, 15-1 SCIAC

Last NCAA Result: 2017, Second Round: defeated by Whitman University 79-73

Roster  |  Schedule  |  Stats

Last 10 Games

1/27 - at Cal Lutheran - 76-57W

1/31 - at La Verne - 72-53 W

2/3 - Occidental - 70-60 W

2/7 - Pomona-Pitzer - 73-60 W

2/12 - at Occidental - 68-62 W

2/14 - at Whittier - 85-65 W

2/17 - Chapman - 72-63 W

2/20 - at Caltech - 75-68 W

2/23 - Chapman (SCIAC Semis) - 83-72

2/24 - Pomona-Pitzer (SCIAC Final) - 86-62 W

About the Stags:

The Stags enter the NCAA Tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country. CMS battled their way through early season struggles, but have rattled off 16-straight victories and have not lost since December. The Stags claimed their 20th SCIAC Championship this season with a 15-1 record in conference play before earning the sixth SCIAC Tournament Title in program history with an 86-62 victory over their bitter rivals, the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens.

In the SCIAC Championship game, the Stags went 9-14 from beyond the arc in the first-half and started the second period just as hot, building a 30-point lead early in the second-half. CMS cruised to the 24-point victory to lock up their berth in the NCAA Tournament.

The Stags were ranked No. 15 in the preseason polls, but quickly slipped off the national radar after a tough 0-4 start to the season. The stretch continued through December, as CMS opened the season 3-7 heading into the month of January. Things seemed to shift for the Stags after a 71-63 loss to Tufts closed out the 2017 calendar year. A 90-63 victory over La Verne on Jan. 3 seemed to put the Stags in the right direction. Since that victory, CMS has yet to lose a game, picking up 16-straight victories since.

Led by two-time SCIAC Athlete of the Year, Michael Scarlett (CMC), the Stags feature a senior heavy line-up with a handful of underclassmen contributors off the bench. Seniors Scarlett, Kendrick Morris (CMC), and Scott Lynds (CMC) earned All-SCIAC honors last week and have been a mainstay in the CMS line-up this season. While not always the scoring threat that Scarlett, Lynds, and Morris are, classmate Jack Ely (CMC) is the defensive backbone for the Stags and leads the team with 3.0 assists per game. Miles President (HMC), the lone underclassmen starter for the Stags, can stroke the three. He leads the team with a 46.5% from beyond the arc.

Off the bench, Patrick Myers (CMC), Maxwell Kirsch (CMC), Mitchell Kirsch (CMC), Jeremy Horn (CMC), Andrew Maddock (CMC), and Mark Sui (CMC) have each appeared in at least 20 games this season.  The Kirsch brothers, Mitchell and Maxwell, have appeared in all 26 games this year and lead the group with 12.2 and 9.3 minutes per game, respectively.

No. 2 Whitworth University Pirates

Location: Spokane, Wash.

Head Coach: Matt Logie (Seventh Season)

NCAA Appearances: 13th

2017-18 Record: 24-3, 14-2 Northwest Conference

Last NCAA Result: 2017, NCAA First Round: defeated by Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 78-73

Roster  |  Schedule  |  Stats

Last 10 Games

1/26 - Pacific Lutheran - 81-69 W

1/27 - Puget Sound - 111-97 W

2/2 - at Pacific (OR) - 89-67 W

2/3 - at Lewis & Clark - 76-70 W

2/6 - Whitman - 100-99 L

2/9 - at George Fox - 101-98 (OT) W

2/16 - Linfield - 86-75 W

2/17 - Willamette - 76-60 W

2/22 - Puget Sound (NWC Semi) - 97-79 W

2/24 - at Whitman (NWC Final) - 91-88 W

About the Pirates: 

Whitworth won its 13th Northwest Conference tournament championship with a dramatic 91-88 win at Whitman in the conference tournament final on Saturday night. NWC Player of the Year Kyle Roach hit a long three-pointer as time expired to lift the Pirates to the win.  The game featured 16 ties and 16 lead changes and each team rallied from a significant deficit during the course of the contest.  Ben College hit six three-pointers in the game and led all players with 24 points. Roach finished with 23 points, while Garrett Hull had his second double-double in as many NWC tournament games with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Jared Christy finished with eight rebounds, seven points and seven assists.  Isaiah Hernandez came off of the bench for seven points and three assists. Whitworth shot 50% from the field (32-64) and 50% from the three-point line (13-26). The win ended Whitman's 26-game winning streak this season and the Pirates' seven-game losing streak to the Blues.

The Bucs advanced in the NWC tournament with Thursday night's 97-79 semifinal victory over third-seeded Puget Sound. The Bucs shot 49% from the floor while holding the Loggers to 39%, including only 23% (10-42) from three-point range. Whitworth held a commanding edge in rebounding (53-35) and committed only 14 turnovers against the Puget Sound full-court press. The win was Whitworth's 22nd in a row over Puget Sound.

No. 1 Whitman College Blues

Location: Walla Walla, Wash.

Head Coach: Matt Bridgeland (10th Season)

NCAA Appearances: Third

2017-18 Record: 26-1, 16-0 Northwest Conference

Last NCAA Result: 2017, National Semifinals (Final Four): defeated by Babson 91-85

Roster  |  Schedule  |  Stats

Last 10 Games

1/26 - Puget Sound - 136-109 W

1/27 - Pacific Lutheran - 111-77 W

2/2 - Lewis & Clark - 74-60 W

2/3 - Pacific (OR) - 112-69 W

2/6 - Whitworth - 100-99 W

2/10 - George Fox - 97-80 W

2/16 - Willamette - 93-67 W

2/17 - Linfield - 100-69 W

2/22 - Linfield (NWC Semi) - 87-76 W

2/24 - Whitworth (NWC Final) - 91-88 L

About the Blues:

The No. 1 Whitman Blues completed their second consecutive regular season without a loss. Their win in the regular-season finale against Linfield (Feb. 17) pushed a conference-record regular-season win streak to 40 games. Despite their perfect regular season, the Blue currently have a loss to their name thanks to a buzzer beating three from Whitworth in the Northwest Conference Tournament Championship. The Blues lost the game 91-88, but carry a 26-1 record into this weekend.

Whitman has three players scoring at least 10 points per game with Joey Hewitt's 17.9 points per contest leading the way. Tim Howell (17.8 ppg) and Darné Duckett (11.1) join Hewitt in double figures. Austin Butler's 82 steals and 3.0 steals per game led the Northwest Conference this season and ranks fifth across all of NCAA Division III. His 65.0% field goal percentage, 4.4 assists per game, and 1.9 blocks per game also led the NWC this season. Jack Stewart (2.4) and Hewitt (2.3) sit right behind Butler, sitting two and three in the NWC, respectively, in steals per game. Hewitt and Howell were both named All-NWC First Team, Butler earned Second Team accolades, and Stewart garnered Honorable Mention recognition. Head coach Eric Bridgeland was named NWC Coach of the Year.

Schreiner University Mountaineers

Location: Kerrville, Texas

Head Coach: Connor Kuykendall (Fourth Season)

NCAA Appearances: First

2017-18 Record: 15-12, 10-4 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

Last NCAA Result: n/a


Roster  |  Schedule  |  Stats

Games vs. NCAA Tournament Teams

1/26 - at Austin - 88-75 W

1/28 - at Centenary - 65-64 W

2/2 - Southwestern - 75-64 W

2/3 - Texas Lutheran - 83-81 W

2/9 - at Colorado - 76-65 L

2/11 - at Dallas - 93-85 W

2/15 - Trinity - 74-66 W

2/17 - at Trinity - 75-56 L

2/24 - (N) Trinity (SCAC Semi) - 74-67 W

2/25 - (N) Centenary (SCAC Final) - 77-73 W

About the Mountaineers:

The Schreiner University Mountaineers earned the program's first ever berth into the NCAA Tournament after winning their first Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship Title this season. They finished the regular season with a 13-12 record, grabbing their second-straight regular season title, and went 2-0 in the SCAC Tournament and enter their First Round game against Whitman with a 15-12 overall record.

Senior Keenan Gumbs was named the SCAC Player of the Year and earned All-SCAC First Team accolades. He is currently ranks in the top-10 in the league in almost every offensive category, including the top-two in scoring (568 points – second), points per game (21.0 – second), field goals (180 – second), three-point field goal percentage (43.8 percent – second), and free throws made (155 – first). Blake Kelley also had a big year for Schreiner, dropping an average of 15.8 points per game and leading the team with 7.8 rebounds per game. He earned Second-Team All-SCAC honors. Head coach Connor Kuykendall was named SCAC Coach of the Year.


Please note that portions of this preview have been borrowed from the Whitworth, Whitman, and Schreiner athletics websites.