CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's basketball team was locked in a defensive struggle against Redlands, but used its bench to surge ahead in the third quarter and went on to capture a 53-41 win on Saturday night at Roberts Pavilion, extending its winning streak to 14 games.
Junior guard Gloria Bates came off the bench to score a career-high 23 points to lead the way for CMS, which improves to 18-2 overall and 10-1 in the SCIAC with the win. Bates had tied her old career high of 18 points in Thursday's win over Pomona-Pitzer, which moved the Athenas into sole possession of first place in the SCIAC. Redlands slips to 7-12 overall and 4-6 in the league with the loss.
The game was very much in doubt before the Athenas closed out the third quarter on a 12-0 running, turning a 32-32 tie with 4:07 left in the third into a 44-32 lead heading into the fourth. Bates had seven straight points to start the run, before sophomore forward Kate Parrish, who had 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench, scored three on a lay-up and a foul shot. Bates capped off the run with two foul shots with two seconds left to make it a 12-point lead.
On the other end, junior guard Lauren Longo came off the bench to help quiet Redlands sharpshooter Alyssa Downs, who was giving CMS fits in the first half. Downs had 14 points on 5-7 shooting (4-4 from three) in the first half, but Longo came in the game to try to deny her the ball all over the floor, and helped hold her to just two points in the second half on only two field goal attempts.
"The two biggest things that turned the game around for us were Lauren Longo and Gloria Bates," said head coach Kristen Dowling. "Lauren defensively helped stop (Downs), and as a team to only two points in the second half was huge. And then Gloria on the offensive end was just getting to the rim and creating things on a day when we were struggling to score. It seems like different people step up every night for us."
The fourth quarter then became a defensive stalemate, as both teams managed only nine points over the final 10 minutes, which played into the Athenas' hands with a 12-point lead. Twice Redlands got the lead down to nine, but Bates answered with a jumper the first time and Parrish with a three-point play the second time. At one point in the fourth, Redlands appeared to have an easy fast break lay-up, but Bates raced in to come up with a key block and Parrish saved the ball from going out of bounds.
CMS was never able to build any separation in the first half, taking a 14-12 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 26-22 lead at the half, which was the largest lead that the Athenas had over the first 20 minutes. A Parrish put-back lay-up broke a 12-12 tie in the final minute of the first quarter, and after Downs tied the score 22-22 with her fourth three-pointer of the first half, sophomore point guard Maezelle Millan drove to the basket to break the tie, and junior guard Maya Love had a steal and fast break lay-up with 45 seconds left to make it a 26-22 lead at the half.
A Love jumper pushed the lead to 30-24 early in the third quarter, but Redlands used an 8-2 run to tie it a 32-32 on a Camille Mosley jumper, before CMS was able to finally fight off the Bulldogs and take control. The end result was similar to the first meeting on Jan. 5, when the Athenas were able to prevail in a tight defensive battle 47-41.
The CMS bench outscored the Redlands bench 37-2 on the day, led by the 23 from Bates. The Athenas also held a 36-8 advantage in points in the paint and an 18-2 advantage in second-chance points, tallying 17 offensive rebounds to just three from Redlands. In Thursday's win over Pomona-Pitzer, CMS held a whopping 57-16 rebounding edge and allowed only one offensive board in that entire contest.
The Athenas will have a bye in their SCIAC schedule on Wednesday before returning to action on Saturday at Roberts Pavilion to take on La Verne at 5 p.m.