WHITTIER – The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s basketball team came out of the locker room with a spirited performance after falling into a 22-point halftime hole, holding Whittier to only two third-quarter points and getting the lead down to just eight, but it was unable to come all the way back as the Poets pulled away late for a 64-39 win in the SCIAC tournament quarterfinals on Tuesday.

The loss ends the CMS season with a 10-16 record, while Whittier (14-8) moves on to the semifinal round on Thursday, when it travels to top-seeded Redlands. Austyn Masuno, who earlier in the day earned first-team All-SCIAC honors, led CMS with 14 points and eight rebounds.

In an unusual twist, the Athenas suffered through a tough offensive quarter in the second, when they were outscored 14-2, but turned around after intermission to outscore Whittier 14-2 in the third quarter to close a 35-13 halftime deficit down to 37-27 heading into the fourth.

Jocelyn Song scored off a Masuno feed on the first second-half posses­sion for CMS, and Masuno followed with a layup to cut the lead to 35-17. A Jacey Carter three-pointer closed the gap to 35-20, and Song and Masuno followed with baskets to make it an 11-0 run in a span of 4:09.

Whittier stopped the run with a basket with 4:43 to go, and neither team was able to score until Mary Markaryan closed out the third quarter with a three-point play with 17 seconds left to make it a 10-point game at 37-27.

Flora Durgerian started the fourth with a layup to get the Athenas all the way back to single digits at 37-29, but Lainie Janes ended the Whittier scoring drought with a three-pointer to make the score 40-29, and an old-fashioned three-point play from Rhe Nae Leach made it a quick 6-0 run that stemmed the CMS momentum, and the Poets were able to pull away late.

CMS was within 11-9 midway through the first quarter on a Grace Florendo jumper, but Whittier closed the first on an 10-2 run to take a 21- 11 lead, and then the Athenas could only manage a Masuno layup in the second quarter as the lead swelled to 35-13 at the half. CMS successfully regrouped and got back in it, but the hole proved too much to overcome.

James had 18 points, SCIAC Player of the Year Teani White had 14, although the Athena defense harassed her into 5-20 shooting, and Leach had 13 for the Poets.

CMS will turn its attention towards next year, when it will try to return to its traditional status as a SCIAC contender. Masuno will enter her senior season with first-team all-conference accolades under her belt, while the team’s young nucleus of players who showed promise this year will look to build on their first-year experience.

— Courtesy CMS Athletics

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