CMS Nips Whitworth in NCAA Opener

CMS Nips Whitworth in NCAA Opener

WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Michael Scarlett scored 11 of his game-high 31 points in the final 3:15 of the game as Claremont-Mudd-Scripps edged 2nd-ranked Whitworth 83-82 in the first round of the NCAA Division III men's basketball tournament on Friday night at Whitman College.

Scarlett, the two-time Southern California Intercollegiate Athletics Conference Player of the Year, led the Stags (20-7) to a first round victory over the Pirates (24-4) for the second year in a row.

Scarlett and fellow senior guard Scott Lynds combined for 59 of the points for CMS.  The Stags advance to play the winner of Whitman-Schreiner in the second round.

"It was a tremendous game and a dog fight the entire way," said CMS head coach Ken Scalmanini.  "Whitworth forced us to make adjustments and our seniors really stepped up.  We are excited to play another day."

Jared Christy, one of four new starters for the Pirates in 2017-18, led Whitworth with 23 points, nine rebounds and four assists.  Ben College went 5-10 from three-point range and scored 19 points for the Bucs.

"We've got to tip our hat to CMS, their back court was special tonight," said Whitworth head coach Matt Logie.  "The way their guys made shots was the difference in the game."

Claremont shot 53% from the field, including 55% (11-20) from three-point range.  Lynds was 5-10 from beyond the arc.  Miles President, who spent much of the game guarding 2018 Northwest Conference Player of the Year Kyle Roach, made 4-5 from three-point range and finished with 12 points.

Roach scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds, but he had to work hard for those points.  He went 6-20 from the floor.

"All the credit goes to CMS because they forced some really tough shots," Roach said. 

The first half featured nine lead changes.  Lynds opened the game with a three-pointer for the Stags.  CMS led for most of the opening 20 minutes until Garrett Hull's three-pointer tied the game 23-23.  Trailing 29-28, Whitworth went on a 7-0 run to grab a 35-29 lead after Hull's steal and layup.  Claremont answered with seven straight points of its own, taking a 36-35 lead on another President three-pointer.  College drained a three at the buzzer to give Whitworth a 38-36 lead at the break. 

Another College trey gave the Pirates a 43-38 lead early in the second, but the Stags answered with a 13-4 run to go up 51-47 on Jack Ely's basket.  Whitworth retook a 59-57 lead on a Christy layup with just under 10 minutes to play and went up 64-60 on Roach's bucket with just under seven minutes to play.  CMS scored five straight, including a three by Lynds, to go back in front. 

Whitworth took its final lead at 69-68 on Hull's free throw with 3:16 left.  Scarlett scored three straight baskets and Lynds hit a pair of free throws to put the Stags ahead 76-71 with 41 seconds to go.  Scarlett's free throws extended the advantage to 79-72 with 14 seconds on the clock, appearing to clinch the game.  However, Isaiah Hernandez and College sandwiched a pair of three-pointers around two more Lynds free throws and Roach scored after an offensive foul with two seconds left to draw the Pirates within 81-80.  Scarlett made two final free throws with four tenths of a second to go and Christy scored off a length-of-the-floor pass to give Whitworth its final basket as time expired.

Hull had 11 points and Hernandez finished with ten to give Whitworth five players in double figures.  But the Pirates shot only 39.4% from the field overall and 38% from three-point range.  Whitworth stayed in the game by making 22-27 from the free throw line.

"There was a lot of reason for pride in our locker room," Logie said after the game. "From where we came from in the last off-season, basically starting over, to win 24 games and take the conference tournament championship game, says a lot about the guys in that room.  I really feel we were a year ahead of schedule.  We've learned a lot and will be better for it next season."

Whitworth will return all five starters from tonight's game in 2018-19, as well as Jordan Lester who was injured in the Pirates' ninth game of the season.  The only senior on Whitworth's roster was Joel Gabriele.