CLAREMONT, Calif. – Ignited by a pair of first half runs, the No. 2 seed Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's basketball team went on to defeat third-seeded California Lutheran 77-51 in the semifinals of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Postseason Tournament on Feb. 27 at the Rains Center. The win puts CMS in the postseason tournament finals at top-seeded Chapman in Orange on Saturday, Feb. 28, with tipoff set for 7:30 p.m. Chapman advanced to the finals with an 83-66 win against No. 4 seed Whittier on Friday night.
CMS is now 20-6 on the season, reaching the 20-win mark for the second-straight season and third time in four years. It is the sixth 20-win season under head coach Ken Scalmanini who is now two wins short of 300 during his tenure at CMS.
Against Cal Lu (18-7), CMS trailed for the majority of the first half, but only faced a deficit of as many as five points. Down 18-13 with 9:26 left in the first half, CMS began to chip away, first with a pair of free throws. Senior guard Jack Grodahl (CMC) evened the score at 18-18 on a three-pointer at the 8:23 mark of the first half. A three-pointer and jumper by guard Tyler Gaffaney (CGU) followed by another three from Grodahl capped of the 11-0 run for CMS which put them ahead 28-16. Cal Lu's Arik Smith ended the run with a three of his own with just over five minutes to go in the first half. Gaffaney led all scorers in the game with 26 points on 9-of-11 shooting.
Cal Lu evened the score back up at 28-28 after a breakaway dunk by Smith with 2:43 left in the half, but CMS answered right back with a 9-0 run. CMS entered the locker room with a 37-30 lead and would not trail for the remainder of the game. Early on in the second half, Cal Lu trailed by four points on a couple of occasions and kept within 10 points as late as 8:45 remaining at 56-46. Another run, this time a 10-0 run stretched CMS' lead out to 66-46 with 3:49 left after a pair of free throws by junior guard Jack Earley (CMC). Earley finished second on the team with 16 points including 9-of-12 shooting from the free-throw line.
CMS' largest advantage of the game was 26 points. The Stags shot 59 percent from the field and held Cal Lutheran to 33 percent for the game. CMS controlled the boards, outrebounding Cal Lutheran 38-20.
Junior center Shelby Lane (CMC) added eight points and six rebounds for CMS. Coltrane Powdrill led Cal Lutheran with 21 while the CMS defense held Smith to 12 points.
Chapman and CMS now play for the SCIAC Postseason Tournament title and the conference's automatic bid to the NCAAs, which begin next week. Chapman defeated CMS in both games this season. On Jan. 10 in Orange, Chapman won 73-68, then on Feb. 3 Chapman won 65-62 in overtime in Claremont.
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