Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College Men's Basketball team put together a fight Friday evening in the Graham Athletic Center in front of a raucous crowd of over 1,000 strong during their home opener but couldn't complete the comeback as the Stags of Claremont-M-S would come away with the road victory 73-68.
In a new ruling where a conference game will be played prior to the Holiday break, Whittier and Claremont-M-S put on a show in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) showdown.
Whittier has now lost three in a row and drop to 1-3, 0-1 SCIAC, while CMS remains undefeated moving to 6-0, 1-0 SCIAC.
Despite shooting 43% from the field and having three players in double figures, the Purple & Gold had no answer inside for the Stags Kendrick Morris who tossed in a game high 25 points on 12-of-14 shooting.
The Poets kept the game close throughout only allowing the margin to slip to 12 early in the second half, but they managed to chip away at it and get within two with :40 seconds remaining in the game following back to back triples from Chris Kapano (Los Alamitos, Calif.).
But that's as close as they would get as the Stags would knockdown four ensuing free throws that extended the lead back to six. Conner Longmire (Tarzana, Calif.) knocked down a jumper that pulled WC within four at 72-68 but one of two free throws by Michael Scarlett would secure the win for CMS.
Kapano and Louis Kurihara (Pacific Palisades, Calif.) got the Poets off to a hot start knocking down a jumper and triple that gave Whittier an early 5-0 lead but that was short-lived as three consecutive lay-ups from Morris would turn the momentum back into the Stags favor.
Eric Davis (Ventura, Calif.) tried to jump start the Poet offense again at the 14:28 mark ending the Stag run by completing a two handed jam following a steal from Longmire. Jacob Aruta (Stockton, Calif.) would create fireworks again minutes later as he would knock down a huge three-pointer and Davis would go down on the other end picking up a huge block before returning down the court to add a jumper, which would pull WC within two.
Evan Davis and Morris would answer soon after for CMS but again the Poets didn't go away as they put together an 11-2 spurt in just over three minutes, which included five coming from Davis, who capped off the run with a triple from up top. This would pull Whittier even at 26-26, Longmire would add a lay-up that again knotted things up at 28-28 but a 5-2 run by CMS would move the deficit back to five before they would close out the final two minutes with a 4-0 run that gave them a 39-32 lead at the break.
In the second, the Poets answered the Stags basket for basket with Kapano and Kurihara knocking down some early three-pointers that got WC within five. But again CMS got hot, this time from deep as Miles President and Scott Lynds would add back to back tres that opened the score up to 54-42 and they didn't look back.
Kapano led the Poets with a career high 19 points with two steals, an assist and three boards. Davis added 12 points off the bench on 4-of-8 shooting, while hauling in five rebounds and two assists. Kurihara added 11 with two steals, two assists and five boards, while Nick Potthoff (Phoenix, AZ) registered seven points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals in 31 minutes of action.
Whittier returns to their non-conference schedule next Sunday, December 18 as they host Pacific (OR) beginning at 3:00pm.