ORANGE, Calif. – After a two season hiatus, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's basketball team is returning to the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championships after defeating top-seeded Chapman 71-66 in the finals of the SCIAC Postseason Tournament on Feb. 28 at the Hutton Center. With the win, CMS clinched the conference's automatic bid to the NCAAs and will find out on Monday, March 2 at 9:30 a.m. PST its first round opponent, when the NCAA releases the tournament field on its Selection Show.
After a tight first half which saw CMS lead 30-26 at the break, CMS pushed its advantage to double-digits right out of the gate in the second half behind the play of senior guard Jack Grodahl (CMC). Grodahl scored CMS' first 11 points of the second half during the first four minutes, highlighted by two three-pointers. All 16 of Grodahl's points came in the second half.
The run to start the second half pushed CMS' lead to 40-26 with 16:13 remaining. Taylor Hamasaki ended Chapman's scoring drought with a pair of free-throws to narrow the score to 40-28.
The CMS lead ballooned to as many as 18 points at 55-37 after free throws from guard Tyler Gaffaney (CGU) with 9:34 remaining. With 4:17 left, Chapman managed to get CMS' lead back under 10 points. With seven seconds remaining in the game, Chapman's Colin Zavrsnick hit a jumper from the top of the key to get within three points at 69-66 which is as close as they would get.
Gaffaney then sealed the win for CMS with two free throws. He finished with 17 points on the night.
The CMS bench had a strong game, accounting for 20 points, led by junior center Nick Lund (CMC) and freshman forward Jack Ely (CMC) who had eight points.
The win for CMS avenged two losses to Chapman earlier in the season. CMS became the first team in the eight year history of the SCIAC Postseason Men's Basketball Tournament to win the finals on the road. CMS has now been in the SCIAC Tournament finals seven times.
CMS last played in the NCAA Championships in 2012, a tough overtime 76-74 loss at St. Thomas who at the time was the defending D-III national champions.
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