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The Stags and their families celebrate the SCIAC title on Saturday
The Stags and their families celebrate the SCIAC title on Saturday

CMS Men's Basketball Heads Back To Thousand Oaks, Faces St. Thomas in NCAA Opening Round

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's basketball, which won the SCIAC Postseason Championship at Cal Lutheran on Saturday, will head back to Thousand Oaks for the NCAA Division III Regionals, taking on St. Thomas (Texas) in the first round on Friday at 3:30 p.m.

Cal Lutheran will face Whitworth in the other semifinal on Friday, with the two winners meeting each other on Saturday at 6:05 in the regional championship. The winner of that contest will advance to the Round of 16 against the winner of the bracket at Trinity (Texas), which also features Texas-Dallas, Nebraska-Wesleyan and Centenary (La.). 

CMS defeated Cal Lutheran in the SCIAC Championship game on Saturday by a 61-55 score to earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Tournament Most Valuable Player Josh Angle, who was also named the league's Athlete of the Year, had 17 in the championship game after scoring 18 of his 20 in the second half of a semifinal win over Pomona-Pitzer. Will Householter helped seal the win by shooting 6-6 from the foul line in the final minute, including both ends of two one-and-ones with CMS clinging to a narrow lead. 

The Kingsmen (23-4) still earned a bid based on the strength of their overall resume, which included a 19-game winning streak that was snapped when the Stags knocked them off in the league title game. CMS was also the last team to beat Cal Lutheran, 60-55 back on Dec. 7, with the Kingsmen winning the regular season rematch. 

The postseason opportunity will also allow Angle the chance to climb a little higher on the CMS all-time scoring list, as he comes in with 1577 points, placing fifth all-time, but 19 shy of Tyler Gaffaney (2010-15) in fourth place, and 20 behind Kevin Zitar (1992-96) in third. Angle scored only 91 points as a freshman in 2018-19, but has made up ground by averaging 20 ppg over the last three seasons.

Rhett Carter, who like Angle is back for his fourth year of competition (making up for the COVID year) while attending Claremont Graduate University, has 980 career points heading into the NCAA Tournament, needing 20 to join the 1000-point club. 

The Stags met St. Thomas early last season at Roberts Pavilion and dropped a close 84-79 decision. Angle had 23 in that one, while graduated senior Kiran Kruse had 28. Current sophomore Nick Anderson led St. Thomas with 22 points.

CMS last competed in the NCAA Tournament in 2018, knocking off Whitworth in an 83-82 thriller in the opening round, and then falling to Whitman, ranked No. 1 in the country at the time, in overtime in the regional finals.