CLAREMONT, Calif. – For the third straight year, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's basketball team defended its regular season title with a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Postseason Tournament Championship, this time beating Cal Lutheran75-48 in the final. The Athenas went on a 16-0 run at the end of the first half and carried the momentum into the second, resulting in the 27-point victory.
CMS took the lead in the first possession of the game as Mara Falahee (SCR) dished out an assist to Kailee Severt (CMC) to hit a three-pointer just 20 seconds into the contest. The Regals countered immediately as leading-scorer Jessica Salottolo hit a three to even the score. The first quarter saw even scoring from both teams and a dead-even tie in rebounds.
Each time the Athenas would hit a shot in the beginning of the second quarter, the Regals would answer with one of their own. Sofia Cruz drained a big three to get CLU on the board in the quarter, keeping the score close. Kayalin Akens-Irby (CMC) put up a pair of shots that went for points and then CLU's Kiana Gray converted on two free throws to bring the game within one point at 26-25 in CMS' favor.
In the remaining 5:04 of the first half, the Athenas made seven baskets that accounted for 16 points without the Regals getting a bucket. In that run, Jai Dungca (CMC) hit two three-pointers and a layup, much to the crowd's delight. Kris Brackmann (CMC) kick-started it all with back-to-back driving layups and then Claire Donnelly (CMC) contributed, making a quick turnaround jumper.
Going into halftime, CMS led 42-25. Each of Severt and Dungca already were in double-digit scoring and CLU's Chelsea Jacoby led the Regals with nine points.
The second half saw the Athenas maintain their lead despite Cal Lutheran's concerted effort to cut down the points margin. Salottolo went for six points in the third quarter, connecting on her second three for the night.
As time wound down in the game, the lone Athena senior, Falahee was feeling her shot and drained two threes in the fourth quarter. She was a perfect 5-for-5 on the night including a trio of three-pointers, after only making eight in the previous 25 games.
Severt was the eventual points leader at 18 followed by Dungca at 16. Jacoby led CLU with 14 and Salottolo had nine. Falahee led all players with nine rebounds and in the purple, Haley Hodgson grabbed eight.
With the win, CMS improves to 22-5 and Cal Lutheran drops to 19-8. The Athenas will represent SCIAC with the automatic qualification to the NCAA Tournament. Watch the NCAA Selection Show on Monday at 11:30 a.m. PST to find out where CMS will be sent for the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
By Emily Nordhoff
Sports Information Director
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