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Grace Florendo's back-to-back baskets gave CMS the lead for good
Grace Florendo's back-to-back baskets gave CMS the lead for good

CMS Women's Basketball Pulls Out Late 74-69 Win Over Occidental

EAGLE ROCK, Calif. – Grace Florendo made back-to-back clutch baskets in the final 1:01 to turn a one-point deficit into a three-point lead as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's basketball team, playing for the first time in three weeks, held off Occidental for a 74-69 win on Saturday afternoon at Rush Gymnasium.

With the win, CMS gets back level in SCIAC play at 2-2, while improving to 4-8 overall after a difficult non-conference schedule that included 10-0 NYU, 10-1 Whitman and 8-2 UC Santa Cruz, among others. Occidental slips to 4-4 overall, and 1-2 in league play with the loss.

CMS led for almost the entire second half after trailing by four at the break, but Occidental took a 69-68 lead with 1:17 to go on a drive my Maylene Hughes. Florendo came back at the other end, though, with a baseline drive to give CMS back the lead with 1:01 to play. Austyn Masuno then had a key block at the other end, and Florendo was able to knock down a short bank shot on the fast break to give CMS a 72-69 advantage with 45 seconds left. Occidental missed a three-pointer to tie, and Kayla Ishibashi sealed the win with a pair of foul shots with six seconds left

CMS led by as many as seven in the fourth quarter, before Occidental briefly took a one-point lead, Eliza Friend scored inside the paint, and Jacey Carter hit a big three-pointer to push the lead to four. Mary Markaryan then got a big offensive rebound off a missed foul shot and converted to put CMS back ahead by five at 66-61. Occidental got it back to 66-65 before Ishibashi had a driving layup with 2:05 to go, and the Tigers scored the next four points to take another brief one-point lead, before Florendo swung the lead back to the Athenas for good.    

The Athenas did not take their first lead until the start of the second half, when they opened with a 6-0 run to pull ahead 38-36 on a Markaryan layup. After Occidental made a foul shot, CMS scored the next five points on a Masuno jumper and an Ishibashi three-pointer to stretch the lead to 43-37 before the Tigers made their first field goal after intermission, stopping an 11-1 CMS run to start the half (and a 13-1 run spanning both halves).

CMS maintained a 49-45 lead after three quarters, and Elizabeth Howell-Egan started the fourth with a three-point play to give the Athenas their largest lead of the afternoon at seven points (52-45). Occidental answered with a three-pointer, Gwen Gilmore responded with a short jumper, before the Tigers knotted the score back up at 54-54 with a 6-0 run.

The Athenas never led in the first half but never let Occidental pull away and trailed by just four at intermission. CMS faced a 6-0 deficit before the game was a minute old and fell behind 18-10 late in the opening frame, before an 8-0 run tied it up. Ishibashi hustled to break up an Occidental fast break attempt and was fouled, hitting both, and Masuno capped off the quarter with a driving layup to make it an 18-14 game, and then scored the first two baskets of the second quarter to tie it at 18-18.

CMS earned another tie at 26-26 after a Carter driving layup, before the Tigers had a mini-spurt to go back up by six points at 36-30. Florendo knocked down a jumper, and CMS came up with a defensive stop to close the half and take some momentum into intermission.

Masuno finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, Ishibashi had 13 points (including 6-6 at the line), and Florendo had 12 points for the Athenas.

CMS will be back in action on Monday night when it hosts Whittier for a SCIAC contest at 7 p.m., its first of two mid-week home games before entertaining Cal Lutheran on Wednesday at 7 p.m.