CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Cal Lutheran men's basketball team rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to take a late lead against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Postseason Tournament Championship, but the ball did not bounce in favor of CLU down the stretch and the Kingsmen fell 77-71 to the Stags inside Roberts Pavilion on Saturday night.
A little more than one week after downing the Stags on their home court on a Caleb Richey buzzer-beater, the Kingsmen could not conjure up the same late game magic in front of a packed house of 1,324.
CLU got off to a quick start in the first half, with Blake Miles drawing a charge on the first possession of the game which led to back-to-back baskets from Austin Cole to give the Kingsmen a quick 5-0 lead.
CMS responded with a three-point basket on their next possession and the seesaw affair ensued for much of the first half.
After a Richey layup gave CLU a 25-24 lead with just under five minutes remaining in the opening period, the Stags proceeded to go on a 15-4 run to take a 39-29 lead at the break.
Not laying over by any means, the Kingsmen came out hot to start the second half and put together a 20-9 spurt, highlighted by an Adrian Francis three-pointer to regain the lead 49-48 with 11:52 on the clock.
Trading baskets once again down the stretch, Francis converted an acrobatic layup in the lane and drained a clutch three-pointer to tie the game at 67-67.
The Stags, meanwhile, went to Kendrick Morris in the post to maintain its slim lead.
Trailing 72-69 with under twenty seconds to go, Richey raced to the lane for a layup to cut the lead to one. CMS made both its free throws to take a 74-71 lead, and with one final look to tie the game, the Kingsmen committed a costly turnover to seal it.
Cole had a standout game for the Kingsmen with 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting while Francis and Miles added 13 points apiece. Wolfgang Wood also reached double figures with 12 while Richey racked up a game-high 12 assists.
Michael Scarlett led the Stags with a game-high 26 points and Morris finished with 17.
Ranked eighth in the region, Cal Lutheran (20-7) will hope to keep its season alive with an at-large bid, which will be announced at the NCAA Division III Tournament Selection Show this Monday, Feb. 27 at 9:30 a.m. PST.
Box Score: CMS 77, CLU 71
Tournament Central: 2017 SCIAC Men's Basketball Tournament
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