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Josh Angle finished with 24 points (photo by Caelyn Smith)
Josh Angle finished with 24 points (photo by Caelyn Smith)

CMS Men's Basketball's Comeback Comes Up Short, Stags Settle for No. 2 Seed in SCIAC Tournament

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's basketball team cut a 17-point second half deficit down to two points, but couldn't come all the way back as it dropped a 75-68 road decision to Pomona-Pitzer on Tuesday evening in the regular season finale for both teams at Voelkel Gymnasium.

Pomona-Pitzer, ranked No. 24 in the nation, improves to 20-5 overall and 15-1 in the SCIAC with the win, securing the regular season title outright. CMS, ranked No. 19, concludes the regular season at 21-4 and 13-3 in the SCIAC and will be the No. 2 seed, facing Redlands on Friday night at Roberts Pavilion in one of two SCIAC Semifinals.

Josh Angle had 24 points and nine rebounds, and Kiran Kruse added 14 points and Rhett Carter 11 for CMS. The Stags also got a boost from the return of Matt Meredith, who had seven points and five rebounds off the bench in his first action since Jan. 13, giving CMS another of its key rotation pieces as it heads into postseason play. 

The first half was tight the whole way, but Pomona-Pitzer was able to open up a six-point lead at the break (38-32). The Sagehens then put a quick spurt on early in the second half to build its largest lead at 17 points. Kruse knocked down a three-pointer to make the score 40-35, but a three-point play from Brendan Mora, followed by three-pointers from Ty Bergman, Pete Boyle and Joe Cookson, resulted in a 12-0 run on four possessions in a span of less than two minutes.

CMS withstood the run, as Carter hit a jumper and Meredith knocked down a three-pointer to get it back down to 52-40. Another Meredith jumper made it 58-48, and Carter scored to get the lead back into single digits at 58-50 with 10:45 left. 

With the score 65-56, Angle hit a lay-up and two foul shots and Kruse knocked down a three-pointer to get CMS all the way back to within two at 65-63 with 4:15 to play. Mora and Cookson had baskets to get the Sagehen back to six, before Angle knocked down a three with 1:21 to go to make it a 69-66 game. Hayden Moser converted on a lay-up for Pomona-Pitzer that was answered by a short Carter jumper with 32 seconds left, but the Sagehens went 4-4 at the line to hang on.

CMS and Pomona-Pitzer could meet again on Saturday for the postseason championship, but first both teams need to win their semifinals games on Friday. CMS will host Redlands, which it just defeated 79-64 on Wednesday night (after coming from behind by double digits to defeat Redlands 81-78 in the first meeting), while Pomona-Pitzer will face a Cal Lutheran team it just defeated by eight points on Saturday.