LA VERNE, Calif. - Junior forward Lindsey Cleary scored the first three baskets of the game to set the tone on her way to a career-high 19 points, and the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's basketball team held off a second-half rally from La Verne to capture an 80-71 SCIAC road win on Saturday afternoon.
The win was the ninth in a row for the Athenas, who improve to 13-2 overall and 5-1 in the SCIAC, remaining in a tie for first in the loss column in the conference standings. La Verne falls to 8-7 overall and 3-4 in league play with the loss.
Cleary helped CMS get off to a quick 6-0 lead by hitting three straight shots before the game was two minutes old. A three-pointer from junior guard Lauren Longo at the end of the first quarter stretched the lead to 24-13 after the first 10 minutes.
CMS maintained its double-digit lead throughout the second quarter, building it up to 17 points in on a lay-up from junior guard Gloria Bates before settling for a 46-30 lead at intermission. Cleary had 15 of her 19 points in the first half, leaving her only two shy of her previous career high set against Chapman earlier this season.
A lay-up from senior forward Ellery Koelker-Wolfe and a jumper from Cleary stretched the lead to 20 in the first minute of the second half at 50-30, before the Leopards were able to regroup and force CMS into anxious moments before hanging on for the win.
Bailey Kurahashi, who had a game-high 27 points, helped spur the comeback and cut the CMS lead into single digits at 52-43 with three foul shots. Ronnesha Harvey then had a three-point play to cap a 16-2 run and suddenly get the Leopards back within six at 52-46 with 6:17 left in the third.
Junior guard Maya Love stemmed the tide with a big basket, but Kurahashi knocked down a three-pointer to get the Leopards within just five at 54-49. Senior guard Teeana Cotangco hit a big three-pointer late in the quarter to make it eight, and Love answered a La Verne basket to give the Athenas a 61-53 lead heading into the fourth.
Sophomore forward Kate Parrish had a lay-up to give CMS back a double-digit lead at 67-57 with 7:33 left to play, and Bates followed with a lay-up to push the lead to 12 and seemingly give the Athenas control of the game again. La Verne had one final push to get within eight, but Bates swished a jumper from the top of the key with 1:45 to go, and sophomore Maezelle Millan helped prevent any late dramatics by flying out to block a three-pointer and corral the rebound.
La Verne got within 77-70 with 33 seconds left, but Millan hit the first foul shot, and Love snuck in for an offensive rebound on the second before kicking the ball back out to senior guard Corinne Bogle, who hit two foul shots to seal it.
Clearly finished the game 8-10 shooting from the floor (8-9 after missing on the game's first possession) for her career-high 19 points. Love finished with 13 points and eight rebounds for CMS, while Bogle was also in double figures with 11. Bates had another strong effort off the Athena bench with eight points and eight rebounds. CMS had a 46-20 edge in points in the paint on the day, as La Verne did most of its damage from outside, led by Kurahashi (6-8 from three).
CMS will be back in action when it travels to Caltech on Monday for a 7 p.m. contest looking to stretch its win streak to 10 games.