Tale of Two Halves: CMS Men's Basketball Storms Past UC Santa Cruz for 73-58 Win

Tale of Two Halves: CMS Men's Basketball Storms Past UC Santa Cruz for 73-58 Win

CLAREMONT, Calif. - After trailing by 14 points at halftime (35-21), the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's basketball team came out of the locker room with a dominant second-half performance, outscoring UC Santa Cruz 52-23 after intermission to capture a 73-58 win on Sunday evening at Roberts Pavilion.

Senior forward Nicolas Segura Dobjanschi had 19 of his 21 points in the second half on 8-10 shooting, and senior guard Mark Sui had 11 of his 14 after halftime, including a personal 7-0 run to give CMS the lead for good at 46-40, as the Stags improve to 4-3 on the year with the win. UC Santa Cruz slips to 5-4 on the year with the loss after defeating Redlands yesterday in overtime on the first leg of its Southern California trip. 

The first half saw the Banana Slugs surge out to a 30-16 lead and match its largest lead of the game at 35-21 at the break on a Partick Ramos lay-up with 25 seconds left. CMS shot just 9-31 from the floor in the first half (31.0 percent), while the Banana Slugs were 15-27 (55.6 percent). 

However, the Stags came out looking like an entirely new team after the halftime break and wasted little time getting back into the contest, starting out with a 10-0 run to close to within 35-31, which then stretched into a 17-2 run as a three-pointer from sophomore guard Chukwueloka Oti gave CMS a 38-37 lead with 13:33 to play. Segura Dobjanschi and Sui each had two buckets in the initial 10-0 run, sandwiched around a basket from junior forward Jeremy Horn

"We just told ourselves that that wasn't us in the first half," said Sui about the team's locker room talk at halftime. "We were down 14, we were taking quick shots. Usually we try to work our offense and get the shot clock low before we take our shots, but we were not playing like that. We were playing a lot of individual ball, and we did a lot of talking at halftime and figured it out that we just needed to play like ourselves, and it showed in the second half."

A Ramos jump shot with 15:30 left stopped the initial run, but junior forward George Walker scored on a lay-up off a pass from Segura Dobjanschi, who then scored on a lay-up off an Oti pass. After Walker pulled down a defensive rebound, Segura Dobjanchi drove baseline and passed to the opposite corner, where Oti gave CMS its first lead since 14-13 in the first half. 

Russell Taylor came back with a three-pointer for the Banana Slugs, but after a Walker foul shot made the score 40-39, Sui scored seven straight points to give CMS the lead for good. He grabbed a defensive rebound and went coast to coast for a lay-up to put CMS ahead 41-40, then hit a short jumper off a pass from Oti, before capping off his personal 7-0 run with a steal and a three-point play off a fast break lay-up to make it a 46-40 game with 10:24 left. 

UC Santa Cruz got three of those points back on a three-pointer from Rashard Thornhill, and missed a couple chances to get closer, before Segura Dobjanchi had a three-point play with 8:38 to go to make it a 49-43 contest. A three-pointer from junior guard Miles President off a feed from sophomore guard Mitchell Kirsch with 5:01 to go pushed the lead to 56-48, and Segura Dobjanschi scored off an inbounds pass from the baseline from junior guard JD Levine to put CMS ahead by double digits for the first time at 58-48 with 4:38 left. 

The lead swelled to as many as 18 points at 73-55 on a basket from freshman forward Sam Johnson, representing a 32-point swing from the 14-point halftime deficit, before UC Santa Cruz closed out the scoring with a three-pointer on its final possession to make it a 73-58 final. 

Segura Dobjanschi and Sui were the only Stags in double figures in scoring, while Walker had all of his seven points and five rebounds in nine second-half minutes to help spark the comeback. CMS finished with a dominant 47-28 edge in the rebounding department, which was a team effort,as the Stags were led by eight from Horn, six from Sui, and five other players had five apiece. And, of course, everyone contributed to a dominant defensive effort that held UC Santa Cruz to only 23 points in the second half (eight of which came in the final two minutes after the game was decided).  

"Defense is sort of our pride this year," said Sui. "One of our goals is keeping teams under 65 points every single game. Defense is where it starts; we started playing well on defense and getting the ball and pushing it in transition, and we got easy buckets that way."

CMS will be back in action on Wednesday when it takes on California Mirimar for a 7 p.m. contest at Roberts Pavilion.