CMS Men's Basketball Holds Off Late Caltech Rally for 59-54 Road Win

Rhett Carter had 10 points on 5-5 shooting for the Stags (photo by Kiubon Kokko)
Rhett Carter had 10 points on 5-5 shooting for the Stags (photo by Kiubon Kokko)

PASADENA, Calif. – The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's basketball team used a 22-1 run spanning both halves, building a 26-point lead before holding off a late Caltech rally, as the Stags captured a 59-54 win over the Beavers on Saturday afternoon at the Braun Athletic Center.

With the win, CMS improves to 11-3 overall and moves over .500 in the SCIAC at 3-2. Caltech, meanwhile, slips to 4-9 overall and 2-2 in league play after starting out the conference schedule with a 2-0 record.

Junior guard Mitchell Kirsch led the way for CMS with 14 points, while first-year forward Rhett Carter had 10 on 5-5 shooting, while playing for the first time in college against his older brother Ross, a senior forward for the Beavers.

Spanning both halves, the CMS defense held Caltech without a basket from the floor for a span of 16:23. After the Beavers closed to within 15-14 on a three-pointer with 7:48 of the first half, they scored their final nine points of the first half at the foul line, closing out 0-8 from the floor, as the Stags closed out on a 10-1 run to take a 34-23 lead in the break.

CMS then shut Caltech out for the first 6:15 of the second half, using a 12-0 run to go ahead 46-23, until the Beavers broke the drought with a foul shot. CMS extended its lead to 50-24 on a Carter jumper, and did not yield a basket from the floor until Caltech's Alec Andrews hit a tough 15-foot fadeaway with 11:25 left in the second half to make the score 50-31.  

With the ice broken for Caltech, CMS went cold and the Beavers were able to gradually whittle a 26-point CMS lead down to only five in the final minute. A Kirsch layup with 8:26 to go had the Stags up 55-35, but Caltech answered with a 10-0 run. After Carter stopped the run with a baseline jumper, Marcus Gee hit a three-pointer for Caltech in transition to close to within nine with 3:40 left and then followed with a fast break layup to make it 57-50 with just over three minutes remaining.

The Beavers had three possessions to try to get even closer, but CMS was able to get the stops they needed. Noah Barnes made two foul shots with 16 seconds left to make the score 57-52, but senior guard JD Levine answered with two at the line. Barnes then got the rim for a layup with five seconds left to close out the scoring, making the final margin five points.

The first half was a defensive struggle most of the way, but CMS was able to use a late 10-1 run to take a 34-23 lead into the break after holding the Beavers to only 20 percent shooting (5-25). With the score 24-22, first-year center Rhett Carter converted a layup with 2:03 to go in the half, which was followed by five straight points from senior JD Levine on two foul shots and a three-pointer. After a Caltech foul shot, Carter scored his second basket of the run, and Maxwell Kirsch added a foul shot after a technical foul to give the Stags an 11-point lead at halftime.

After Caltech made a three-pointer on its first possession to go ahead 3-0, CMS held the Beavers to only three points over the next 10 minutes as it pulled ahead 13-6 on a layup from senior forward George Walker. The Beavers got back within 15-14 on a Schneider three-pointer, their final field goal in a span of over 16 minutes, but graduate guard Grant Arthur answered with a three-pointer to push the lead to 18-14 and CMS never relinquished the lead the rest of the way.

The Stags finished the night holding Caltech to just 14-57 shooting from the floor (24.6 percent) and 4-22 from three-point land (18.2 percent), but the Beavers were able to hang close at the foul line, where they were 22-29. The Stags shot 51.2 percent (22-43), but were held to only two offensive rebounds and committed 19 turnovers.

CMS will be back in action on Wednesday when it travels to Redlands for a 7 p.m. contest.