WALLA WALLA – No. 2 Whitworth entered its opening-round game in the NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament on Friday night against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps hoping to settle a lingering score.
The Stags ended the Pirates’ season with a 78-73 victory in the opening round of the 2017 tourney at Whitman College.
And unfortunately for Whitworth, a similar result.
Guard Michael Scarlett scored a game-high 31 points, including 13 in the final 4:42 of the second half, and the Stags defeated the Pirates 83-82.
The Stags improved to 20-7 while the Pirates ended up 24-4.
“It was a tremendous game,” CMS coach Ken Scalmanini said. “A lot of guys stepped up. We’re excited to play another day.”
“What a battle,” Whitworth coach Matt Logie said. “Tip your hat to CMS. Basketball is a make or miss game.”
Whitworth held its last lead at 69-68 with 3 minutes, 16 seconds remaining in the game. CMS retook the lead and had a five-point cushion at 76-71 after Scott Lynds made two free throws with 41 seconds remaining. Two free throws by Scarlett gave the Stags a 79-72 lead with 14 seconds left. As Whitworth fouled to extend the game, the Pirates made a series of shots as the clock wound down: 3-pointers by Isaiah Hernandez and Ben College; and a layup by Kyle Roach.
Roach’s layup made the score 81-80, then Scarlett made a pair of free throws with .4 seconds remaining for an 83-80 CMS lead. Whitworth’s Jared Christy scored a layup off a length-of-the-floor pass to make the score 83-82 at the buzzer.
The game was tightly contested from the beginning. Both teams had five-and six-point surges over the first 3:42 of action then the Stags built a pair of five-point leads, 15-10 and 18-13, over the next six minutes.
Whitworth drew even at 20 and 23 prior to a half-ending, six-minute stretch in which the lead changed hands seven times.
The Pirates’ Garrett Hull converted a drive at the 2:13 mark that put Whitworth up by six, 35-29.
CMS tallied the next seven points before College beat the halftime buzzer with a left-wing triple that gave the Pirates a 38-36 edge at intermission.
College increased Whitworth’s lead to four, 45-41, on a short jumper with 17:54 left before the Stags responded with a 15-6 run over the next 6:40. A Lynds’ 3 put CMS up 56-51.
The Pirates scored eight of the next points to claim a 59-57 lead. Christy’s lane bucket completed the burst with 9:39 to go.
Neither team led by more than four over the next four minutes plus.
The two-and-a-half minutes that followed produced a handful of lead changes and one tie. The latter lead change occurred on a free-throw line jumper by Scarlett with 3:03 to go that gave CMS the lead for good, 70-69.
“(My teammates) put me in spots where I could hit shots,” Scarlett said. “We’re confident in ourselves.”
Christy led the Pirates with 23 points.
“I was excited to be a part of a game so big,” Christy said.
Despite the sting of the setback, Logie expressed optimism going forward.
“I’m proud of our journey,” said Logie, who had just two seniors on this year’s roster. “I couldn’t be more excited to run another race with them next year.”
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