Second Half Defense Carries CMS Women's Basketball to Rout of La Verne

Sophomore guard Kelly Keene led the second-half rally for CMS with 11 points in seven minutes
Sophomore guard Kelly Keene led the second-half rally for CMS with 11 points in seven minutes

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's basketball team held La Verne to just 3-for-36 shooting from the floor in the second half, including 0-for-15 in the fourth quarter, as it used a 24-0 run to turn a one-point game at intermission into a lopsided 75-43 win on Monday evening at Roberts Pavilion.

The win was the 17th in a row for the Athenas, ranked No. 18 in Division III, as they improve to 21-2 overall and 13-1 in the SCIAC with the win. Junior guard Maya Love had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while adding six steals, and sophomore guard Kelly Keene sparked the team with 11 second-half points in a seven-minute span off the bench. La Verne falls to 12-11 overall and 6-8 in the SCIAC with the loss. 

Five different players scored in double figures for CMS, which now needs to win just one of its final two regular season games to clinch the regular season title and the right to host all of the games it plays in during the SCIAC Tournament on Feb. 21-23. 

The game had an unusual flow, as La Verne actually had a 16-0 run in the first half, despite ending up on the wrong side of the lopsided final. After CMS took an 18-6 lead in the final minute of the first quarter on a jumper from junior guard Gloria Bates, the Leopards had a three-point play to end the first, and then scored the first 11 points of the second quarter to go ahead 22-18. Love finally ended a six-minute scoring drought with a basket, and the Athenas were able to take a 28-27 lead into the break.  

The lead was still only 40-37 after a three-pointer with 4:36 left in the third from Clarissa Perez, but that was the last field goal that the Leopards would make in the entire contest, as their final six points were all from the foul line in the fourth quarter. The Athenas would go on a 24-0 run to take a 64-37 lead, holding La Verne scoreless for a span of 8:58. 

Bates hit a jumper to start a 13-0 run to end the third, while also ending the quarter with another buzzer-beating jumper to make the score 53-37. Keene had five straight points on a three-pointer and a jumper and then fed junior forward Lindsey Cleary for a lay-up as part of an 11-0 run to start the fourth. The 24-0 run finally ended when Bailey Kurahashi was fouled shooting a three-pointer and made all three, but the outcome of the game was sealed at that point and the CMS defense stayed locked in the rest of the way. 

CMS committed only eight turnovers as a team against a La Verne squad that rotated 20 players while playing a helter-skelter style of pressing defense. Bates tied Love for team-high honors with 12 points, while sophomore forward Kate Parrish matched Keene with 11 points and senior guard Corinne Bogle added 10. Kurahashi led all scorers with 15 points, but nobody else on the La Verne side scored more than five points. 

The Athenas will be back in action with a road game at Occidental on Wednesday, looking to clinch at least a share of their sixth regular season SCIAC title in a row. Even if CMS ended in a tie for the regular season title with Pomona-Pitzer, the Athenas would still have the tiebreaker and home court advantage due to a head-to-head sweep.