CLAREMONT, Calif. – Despite taking an early lead over Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) powerhouse Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on their home court tonight, it was the Stags who edged the visiting Cal Lutheran Kingsmen, 69-65, as CLU dropped a close game for the second consecutive outing.
In the Ducey Gymnasium, a tough place to play, Cal Lutheran opened a 33-29 lead in the opening half, but was unable to maintain that advantage in the second half, falling by a single possession to the now SCIAC leading Stags.
The teams were knotted four times in the first 11 minutes of action and were never separated by more than four points. At the 8:14 mark CMS took their first and only lead of the half on a Nick Lund jumper.
On the next possession freshman Dan Wade connected for a three-pointer to regain the lead and senior Jayvaughn Nettles followed suit with a three of his own on the ensuing CLU possession. Leading by just a point, Corey Quintana continued his breakout rookie year connecting for a pair of free-throws to spark a 6-0 run in which he scored the first four and classmate Lanaki Apele netted the final two with 2:37 to play in the opening frame.
CMS closed out the half with five points while Jeremy Sulker-Hall hit two from the charity stripe and Wade scored the final bucket of the half with nine ticks remaining to leave the teams separated by four at the intermission.
The Stags came out of the locker room fired up and started the second stanza with a 9-0 run to take a five point, 38-33, lead at 17:49. A stale CLU squad, that shot just 33.3 percent from the floor in the second half, allowed CMS to push their lead into double figures mid-way through the half. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps led by 11 points with 6:11 in regulation.
Cal Lutheran slowly chipped away and Sulker-Hall started a 7-0 run with a jumper. Michael Palmer followed with a basket and and-one before Sulker-Hall nailed two more free-throws to cut the deficit to 63-60 at the 2:46 mark. Unfortunately that was as close as the Kingsmen would get as the Stags converted all six free-throws they were awarded in the final 39 seconds. Sulker-Hall did make a jump shot after pulling down an offensive rebound with one second left, but it was too late for CLU.
Wade had a career night by pacing all players with 22 points. The point guard was 10-for-13 shooting, adding a free-throw and a pair of assists. Quintana and Sulker-Hall reached double digits as well with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Sulker-Hall added a team-high seven rebounds with four at the offensive end while Quintana tallied six with a trio of blocks. Nettles also had a block and Palmer came up with two steals tonight for CLU.
For the second time in three games Cal Lutheran players combined for a perfect 100 shooting percentage at the free-throw line, combining to go 16-for-16. Palmer was instrumental in that, going 7-for-7 while Sulker-Hall was 6-for-6.
After struggling recently to control the ball, CLU committed just seven turnovers and forced CMS into eight.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (11-5, 7-1 SCIAC) was led by 18 points from Cody Mivshek and a game-high nine rebounds from Jack Earley. Shelby Lane recorded four blocked shots for CMS.
Cal Lutheran (7-9, 3-4) will be back in the Gilbert Arena on Saturday, Jan. 19 when they host Chapman (8-7, 3-3) at 7:00 p.m. following the women’s game at 5:00 p.m.