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Rhett Carter scores two of his 16 points (photo by Eva Fernandez)
Rhett Carter scores two of his 16 points (photo by Eva Fernandez)

Balanced Offense Leads CMS Men's Basketball to Statement Win over Chapman

CLAREMONT, Calif. - Josh Angle, Kiran Kruse and Justin Pratt each had 19 points to lead five players in double figures as the 22nd-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's basketball team defeated Chapman 93-71 in its SCIAC opener on Wednesday evening at Roberts Pavilion.

With the win, the Stags improve to 6-1 overall and 1-0 in the SCIAC, opening league play with a 22-point win over a Chapman team that knocked the Stags out of the postseason last year in the SCIAC Semifinals and qualified for the NCAA Tournament. The Panthers slip to 3-3 on the year, and open up conference play at 0-1.

Rhett Carter added 16 points for the Stags, while Matt Meredith had 13 points and a team-high nine rebounds in his first game back after missing two weeks with an injury, including the team's only loss to Saint Thomas (Texas). The Stags shot 52.0 percent as a team for the game, and knocked down all seven of their foul shots, while tallying 23 assists and only eight turnovers as a team. 

The key stretch came when CMS closed out the first half on a 15-2 run to turn a 28-26 deficit into a 41-30 advantage at the break. The Stags then led by double digits the entire second half, including by as many as 26 points with 9:12 to go. 

The strong close to the first half began when Pratt knocked down a three-pointer off a kick-out pass from Cahal Connolly to give CMS the lead for good. Pratt then earned one of his four steals on the defensive end, and fed Meredith for a fast break layup. Angle then hit two three-pointers in a row to push it to 37-28, and Meredith had a put-back when Angle didn't connect on an attempt at three in a row, making it a 13-0 run that put the Stags ahead 39-28. 

Chapman ended the run with a pair of foul shots in the final minute, but Pratt capped off the half with a short jumper. Carter then scored in the paint on the first second half possession, and had a layup to make it a 50-33 lead, a 22-5 run spanning both halves. 

The Panthers got the lead back down to 11 twice, but Kruse, Carter and Pratt hit jumpers on three straight possessions for a quick 6-0 run to get the lead back up to 58-41, and the Stags weren't threatened the rest of the way. 

Brian Kenyon had seven assists to lead CMS and helped hold Jack Roggin (18.4 ppg coming in) to just 10 points on 4-11 shooting, as he continued his strong work as a defensive stopper. Two of Roggin's baskets also came on breakaway lay-ups after his steals, the second of which came with 4:02 left in the first half and represented his final points of the night.

CMS will be back in action on Saturday when it hosts Occidental for a SCIAC contest at 4 p.m.