CMS Women's Basketball Coasts Pasts Willamette 66-47 to Remain Undefeated

Junior forward Kate Parrish records one of her three blocks on the day (photo by Daniel Addison)
Junior forward Kate Parrish records one of her three blocks on the day (photo by Daniel Addison)

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's basketball team held Willamette to only 18 first-half points as it built a comfortable lead and coasted to a 66-47 win on Tuesday evening at Roberts Pavilion.

Senior forward Lindsey Cleary led the Athenas with 16 points on 6-11 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, as CMS improves to 3-0 on the young season. Junior forward Kate Parrish added 11 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in only 16 minutes, and junior guard Maezelle Millan had 11 points and five steals. Willamette sees its four-game win streak snapped as it falls to 4-2. 

CMS led 37-18 at the half and was never seriously threatened in the second half. The Bearcats did close out the third quarter on a 10-0 run to close a 21-point lead down to 48-37, but Cleary came back off the bench to score the first six points of the fourth quarter to get the lead back up to 54-37. 

The Athenas never trailed as they jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the game's opening minutes before Willamette got its first points of the game at the 6:19 mark of the first quarter. The defensive intensity out of the gate is something that has been a staple of the Athenas in the early going. 

"Our defense is definitely one of our main focuses," Cleary said. "We work on it every day, every practice, for the majority of the practice. It's our key to winning every game."

The lead stretched out to 12-3 after back-to-back three-pointers from Cleary and junior guard Kelly Keene. The three-pointer was the third of Cleary's career and was one of several perimeter shots the first-team All-SCIAC post player has made in the early part of the season. 

A lay-up from junior forward Kate Parrish stretched the lead to 17-5 with 2:07 left in the quarter, before the Bearcats were able to get back within 19-13 early in the second quarter. Junior guard Maezelle Millan ended the Willamette mini-run with a lay-up that started a 10-0 run, capped off by a jumper in the paint from first-year forward Austyn Masuno, pushing the lead to 29-13 with 5:12 left in the half. First-year Jacey Carter then capped off the first 20 minutes with a three-pointer to give CMS its largest lead of the half at 37-18. 

The win enabled CMS to improve to 3-0 against some tough early-season competition, including a win over a 4-1 Emory team that qualified for the NCAA Tournament last year, and a Puget Sound team that now stands at 2-1. In fact, Willamette came in with a 4-0 record against Division III competition with its only loss to NAIA Northwest Christian, meaning that the three teams CMS have played so far stand at a combined 10-3 against Division III teams, with the Athenas accounting for all three losses. 

It's a big early season resume-builder for a CMS team that has been left out of the last two NCAA Tournaments despite a 47-7 record combined (24-3 last year). 

"The wins that we've had against really good teams are just helping us realize the full potential that we have," Cleary said. "Everyone on the team can contribute, everyone on the team is working super hard. The last three games are showing what our goals are for the season; we're really excited to try to get back to the tournament."

CMS will next be in action for the David Wells Classic, which it co-hosts this weekend with Pomona-Pitzer. The Athenas will face Nebraska Wesleyan on Friday night at 7 p.m. at Roberts Pavilion and then meet Gustavus Adolphus on Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. at Pomona-Pitzer.