CLAREMONT, Calif. – They've won it three times before and they did it again. Through the guiding experience of the seniors, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's basketball made history, sealing their fourth straight SCIAC Tournament title after a 65-54 victory over Chapman on Saturday night. This marks the first time in program history the Athenas won four consecutive SCIAC seasons and tournaments. In a long season that had its share of challenges, the fourth tournament title was a culmination of all the lessons learned from this past season and the experience gained from the seasons before.
"Unbelievable! I'm speechless!" said Head Coach Kristen Dowling. "Tonight we saw consistency from our senior class. They've stepped up all year!"
Senior Kris Brackmann (CMC) led the Athenas with 16 points and seven rebounds while her classmate Quinn Glosniak (CMC) added 10 points and seven boards. The bench provided plenty of punch on both ends of the floor. Senior Aly Young (CMC) added eight points and four rebounds while junior Corinne Bogle (CMC) and freshman Maya Love (CMC) combined for six points and had a block each. Jaryn Fajardo led the Panthers with 14 points and nine rebounds while Lauren Sato chipped in 11 points with four assists.
The Athenas were in control of the game from the opening tip, as junior Kailee Severt (CMC) opened up the scoring with a short-range jumper followed by a layup after a cut through the basket. Brackmann closed out the early 7-0 run with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc. The bench unit came in to relieve some of the starters and its impact was immediately felt. Following a layup from Glosniak, sophomore Kiki Yang (CMC) drove to the lane past several defenders for a reverse layup. On the following possession by Chapman, Young stole the ball in the paint and later hit a layup to give CMS the 13-2 lead.
CMS continued to bother Chapman with its size, finding tall players like Glosniak and Young to attack the paint for consecutive layups. Senior Claire Donnelly (CMC) had a huge stuff with five minutes left in the quarter and later hit a quick turnaround jumper in front of the basket to extend the lead 21-9. However, the Panthers pushed the tempo and played at a higher pace to discombobulate the Athenas' defense to go on a 7-0 run to end the half.
After the Panthers struck early in the third quarter with two baskets, Severt responded with a quick step back 3-pointer to push the lead 28-22. Following two free throws from Fajardo, Brackmann drove in baseline for a well-contested layup. Chapman began to apply pressure to the backcourt, forcing the Athenas to work in bringing the ball down the floor. The defensive adjustment worked as the Panthers went on a 7-0 run to take their first lead of the game. The two teams traded baskets, but the momentum seemed to have shifted with a minute left in the quarter after Brackmann used her size and athleticism to beat her defender for an and-one layup. The senior hit her free throw to return CMS the lead, 39-38.
Donnelly's defense came in handy early in the fourth quarter when she stole the ball from Fajardo in the backcourt and was fouled while making the layup for the 3-point play. She made the following free throw. With 6:25 left in the game, Brackmann ran deep for a long pass by Young from the backcourt and managed to score a layup. The forward followed up by going coast-to-coast after collecting a rebound for another layup, giving CMS the 49-42 lead. With 2:56 left in the game, senior Jai Dungca (CMC) craftily exploited a mismatch, drawing out Chapman's forward to the perimeter and driving past her easily for a layup to extend the lead 55-47. The Panthers started to intentionally foul with 1:20 left in the game, and Brackmann's two free throws were enough to close the game.
The Athenas' first game in the NCAA Tournament is to be determined as the NCAA Women's Division III selection show is not until Monday, Feb. 27 at 11:30 a.m PST.
By Young Kim
Sports Information Assistant
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