LA VERNE, CA -- The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas improved to a perfect 7-0 on the road Thursday night, toppling the La Verne Leopards 73-60 at Frantz Athletic Court. The Athenas hung tough against a high-intensity pressure defense, and put together an important win, improving to 8-3 in conference play (14-8 overall).
The Leopards came out with a physical and pressure based defense, but the Athenas responded. CMS came out firing on all cylinders and remained hot; freshman point guard Kimberly Scamman took care of the ball, and she and her teammates found the open player all night long, connecting for 16 assists as a team and shooting a season high 57% from the floor. Junior forward Frannie Hemmelgarn piled up a career-high 30 points on 12-of-18 shooting to go along with 15 rebounds. She dropped in eight of her team's first 16 points on the way to an early 16-4 lead.
The Athenas held on tight and took a ten point lead into the break, 35-25. CMS lead by as many as 20 points in the second frame, but a barrage of three pointers from La Verne, who went 12-of-31 from downtown, kept them in the game. Lead by guard Brittni Tapia, who was 4-of-6 from three-point land, the Leopards stayed alive but were never able to make it less than a 12-point game.
Hemmelgarn's big night did not stand alone; senior Kalika Tullock put up 15 points and both Ellisa Ronquillo (8) and Scamman (9) neared double-digits as well.
Tapia (14) and Amanda Copas (13) both scored in double figures for the Leopards, who dropped to to 3-8 in SCIAC action (5-17 overall).
"We won by keeping composure against the pressure; we played good team basketball," said Athena's head coach Jodie Burton. She added, "we needed a win to try and get into that top four [that make the postseason tournament]."
Although the Athenas kept their impressive unbeaten road record intact, more importantly, the victory put them four games up on the fifth place Whittier Poets with three games left, clinching a postseason berth with the seeding still to be determined. CMS is tied with Cal Lutheran at 8-3 and both teams are one game back of Redlands (10-1 SCIAC) and two games back of Occidental (9-2 SCIAC).
The Athenas have a chance to make up some of that ground Saturday, when they travel to Redlands to face the Bulldogs: "Redlands is physical and they are going to pressure; this game was physical and that helps us." noted Burton. Meanwhile, La Verne will host Pomona-Pitzer (4-18, 2-9 SCIAC) Saturday evening.