CMS Women's Basketball Prevails In Defensive Battle at Whittier 46-45 for Fourth Straight Win

Kelly Keene shot 7-9 on her way to a career-high 19 points (photo by Daniel Addison)
Kelly Keene shot 7-9 on her way to a career-high 19 points (photo by Daniel Addison)

CLAREMONT, Calif. - Junior Kelly Keene had a career-high 19 points, and junior forward Kate Parrish had the go-ahead basket with 1:37 to go, as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's basketball team prevailed with a tough 46-45 road win over Whittier in a defensive battle on Saturday afternoon.

With the win, CMS improves its record to 13-6 overall and 6-4 in the SCIAC with its fourth win a row. After a busy stretch of four games in eight days, which culminated in back-to-back heartbreaking losses to Chapman (85-82 in double overtime) and Redlands (49-47), the Athenas have roared back to win their last four in a row without allowing more than 45 points in any of the four contests. Whittier, which came into the day alone in second place in the SCIAC, falls to 14-7 overall and 8-3 in league play. 

Keene shot 7-9 from the floor and 4-6 from three on her way to a career-best 19 points, passing her old high of 15 points set earlier this season in the first meeting with Whittier. Her last basket came with 5:54 to go to put CMS ahead 41-40, before senior Lindsey Cleary followed with a basket with 4:21 left to make it a 43-40 lead. 

Whittier responded, though, with two free throws and a layup from Emily Guerena with 3:29 left to go ahead 44-43. After an exchange of stops, senior Lauren Longo had a big steal with 1:49 on the clock, and Parrish followed with the go-ahead basket off an assist from junior Maezelle Millan to put CMS ahead to stay at 45-44 with 1:37 left. 

The Poets earned possession with 49 seconds left and a chance to take the lead, but Millan made a great read to jump the passing lane on a post feed for a key steal with 22 seconds left. After CMS made one of two at the line, Whittier had the ball down 46-44 and got two offensive rebounds before being fouled on the third attempt with four seconds left, giving it a chance to force overtime.

However, the Poets made one of two to close the gap to one point, and CMS advanced the ball into the frontcourt with a timeout. The Athenas were then able to successfully inbound the ball into the backcourt and run out the clock, as the Poets were unable to catch the Athenas to foul. 

CMS took a 10-8 lead after the first quarter behind two three-pointers from Keene, marking the fourth game in a row that the Athenas have held their opponents to single digits in the first quarter (a stretch which started with a 21-4 first quarter against Occidental). Whittier went ahead by as many as six points in the second quarter before settling for a 24-21 lead at the half. 

The Poets maintained a 37-33 after three quarters, with first-year forward Austyn Masuno coming up with a big steal in the final minute of the quarter to stop the Poets from potentially taking a seven or eight-point lead and earning momentum going into the fourth.  Keene then put the momentum squarely on the CMS side with a three-pointer on the first possession of the fourth, making it a one-point game. 

The Athenas held Whittier to just 34.1 percent shooting (15-44) on the afternoon, remarkably the highest field goal percentage for an opponent over the last four games (the other three were under 30 percent). Keene was the only CMS player in double figures with 19, while Cleary chipped in with eight points and Parrish had six to go along with three blocked shots. Millan had six assists and also led the Athenas with six rebounds on the day from her point guard spot. 

CMS will be back in action on Wednesday night for another big SCIAC contest, hosting Pomona-Pitzer at 8:30 p.m. in a battle between two teams tied for third in the league standings at 6-4 behind Redlands (9-1) and Whittier (8-3). That will be the second half of a Sixth Street Rivalry doubleheader, after the CMS men's basketball team faces the Sagehens at 6:30 in a battle for first place on the men's side of the standings.