Comeback Comes Up Short as CMS Women's Basketball Falls to Whittier 69-63

Gloria Bates had her first double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds (photo by Kiubon Kokko)
Gloria Bates had her first double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds (photo by Kiubon Kokko)

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's basketball team fell behind by 17 points in the first half and got back as close as four, but it was unable to complete the comeback as it dropped a 69-63 decision to Whittier on Saturday evening at Roberts Pavilion.

With the loss, CMS falls to 7-4 overall on the season and 0-2 in SCIAC play, while Whittier improves to 8-6 overall and 2-2 in the league. Senior guard Gloria Bates, who made her first start of the season, registered her first career double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Athenas, while junior guard Kelly Keene had a career-high 15 points thanks to 4-7 shooting from three-point territory in the losing cause. Whittier's backcourt fo Cali Cubel (24 points) and Teani Whiter (23 points) combined to score 47 of the Whittier 69 points on the day. 

The Athenas, who were missing their starting backcourt of junior Maezelle Millan and senior Lauren Longo with injuries suffered at the Classic in Las Vegas last weekend, were victimized by 15 first-half turnovers (compared to only three for Whittier) before settling down and turning it over only six times in the second half, but the 17-point hole proved to be too much to overcome.

Whittier used a 13-2 run in the first quarter to build its first double-digit lead with a 21-8 advantage, before settling for as 21-10 lead heading into the second after two Bates foul shots. A three-pointer in the second quarter from first-year guard Jacey Carter had CMS within 21-15, and junior Kate Parrish hit two foul shots to answer a Whittier basket and make the score 23-17. However, the Poets then went on a 12-1 run to take their largest lead of the night at 35-18 with 4:37 left in the half. 

CMS was able to withstand that punch and use a 9-0 run on three three-pointers, two from Keene sandwiched around one from sophomore forward Flora Durgerian, to get the lead back down to single digits. Cubel closed out the half, though, with a fast break lay-up to beat the horn and give the Poets a 37-27 lead at halftime. 

Parrish had two foul shots to close the deficit to six at 41-35 with 6:54 left in the third quarter, but Whittier scored the next six points to get the lead up to 47-35, and was able to maintain a 10-point lead going in the fourth at 54-44. The Poets then started off the final quarter with a pair of layups on their first two possessions to go up 14 at 58-44, before CMS responded with an 11-1 run to get back within four points on two Bates foul shots with 4:42 left.  

A layup from senior Lindsey Cleary got the deficit down to 59-50, and then Cleary had two offensive rebounds on one possession before kicking it out to Keene for a three-pointer with 5:52 left to pull CMS within six. Bates then capped off the run with two foul shots to get the Athenas as close as they had been since the score was 10-6, but Cubel answered back with a lay-up to make the score 61-55 with 4:25 to go. White then hit a dagger with a step-back three-pointer with 1:46 left to stretch the lead to 10, and CMS was unable to get closer than five in the final minute before seeing the score end up 69-63. 

CMS finished with a 39-24 edge in the rebounding department despite the loss, led by 13 from Bates and 10 from Cleary, who just missed a double-double with eight points. Junior point guard Katelynn Nguyen stepped into the starting lineup at point guard and had a career-high seven assists.

The Athenas will try to get back on track on Wednesday when they travel to Cal Lutheran for another SCIAC contest, beginning at 7 p.m.