THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – It came down to the final possession in a tightly contested SCIAC matchup between Cal Lutheran and defending conference champions Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, but the Athenas just barely edged the Regals with a buzzer-beating layup to escape with an 88-86 victory inside Gilbert Arena.
CLU performed extremely well on the offensive end of the floor as five different Regals scored in double figures Wednesday night. Cameron Mallory led the way with 22 points and a career-high six three-pointers, while also grabbling seven rebounds. Natalie Ruhl contributed 18 points to the cause with a very efficient 6-9 from the floor, four of which coming from beyond the arc. Jozie Tangeman went 7-8 from the free throw line to finish with 16 points on the night while Mackenzy Iwahashi and Haley Tyrell each poured in 14 points. Tyrell was huge for Cal Lutheran on the glass, pulling down eight rebounds to lead the team and Iwahashi ran the offense effectively and dished out a team-high six assists.
Both teams enjoyed success offensively as CMS managed to go 35-64 (54.7%) from the field and the Regals posted their highest field-goal percentage of the season at 49.2% while making a season-high 13 three-pointers.
The Athenas quickly found their rhythm in the opening period, taking a commanding eight-point lead. The visitors were able to use their height to their advantage with many of their baskets coming in the paint. A layup as the first-quarter buzzer sounded would give CMS a 24-16 lead.
Cal Lutheran fought valiantly in the second quarter and got started right away as Mallory knocked down back-to-back triples to get things started. A driving layup from Ruhl and two free throws from Iwahashi would eventually even the score, but the talented CMS offense would roar back to take yet another eight-point lead (39-31) at the break.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps pushed their lead to 11 points to open the second half but a strong end to the quarter from the hosts would cut the lead to just one as a three-pointer from Ruhl in the dying seconds of the third quarter set up an exciting final 10 minutes.
Two free throws from Tangeman and another big three from Mallory gave the Regals a three-point lead just under the nine-minute mark. The Athenas would respond, but an important left-handed layup from Tyrell pushed the lead back to four points. CMS rallied once again to regain a one-point advantage with just over a minute to play.
With 30 seconds left, Ruhl split a pair of free throws to knot things up at 83-83. CMS replied with two free throws from Kate Parrish and one free throw from Lauren Longo to make it 86-83. Head Coach Kelli DiMuro called timeout and drew up a perfect out-of-bounds play that ended with a Mallory's six three-pointer of the night to tie the score at 86-86. Unfortunately for the Regals, CMS were able to advance the ball with a timeout and, once again, use their height to their advantage as a pass was lobbed inside and then finished by Lindsey Cleary at the buzzer. The Athenas would walk away with a hard-fought two-point victory after hitting the game-winning shot.
Cal Lutheran falls to 3-8 (1-3 SCIAC) and continue conference play when they host Occidental Jan. 11 at 4 p.m. inside Gilbert Arena.
Box Score: CLU 86, CMS 88
Release by Jeff Rebello, Assistant Sports Information Director