Maki Helps Sagehens Hold Off Chapman For 80-79 Win

Maki Helps Sagehens Hold Off Chapman For 80-79 Win

Redlands, Calif. – Graduate student R.J. Maki (Claremont, Calif. - pictured) had 15 points, including both ends of two pivotal one-and-ones late in the game, to help the Pomona-Pitzer Men's Basketball team hold on for an 80-79 win over Chapman on Friday in the semifinals of the Lee Fulmer Tournament at the University of Redlands.

With the win, the Sagehens improve to 4-1 overall on the season, including four straight wins since a double-overtime loss to defending national champion St. Thomas (Minn.) on Nov. 19, and moves on to the Lee Fulmer championship game tomorrow against the winner of the Redlands-UC Santa Cruz game later today. Chapman slips to 3-3 on the season with the loss.

Pomona-Pitzer never trailed in the game and led by as many as 14 points in the second half, but had to withstand a furious rally from Chapman, which scored 35 points in the final 9:03 by scoring on 13 of its last 15 possessions, including six three-pointers, two old-fashioned three-point plays, and a four-point play. The Sagehens shot 68.2 percent for the game, including 76.2 percent in the second half (16-21), yet still needed to use every bit of its 14-point lead to hang on for the win.

Maki, who is also the leading receiver in the history of Pomona-Pitzer football, helped keep Chapman at bay for a while, as he scored on back-to-back driving lay-ups to push the lead up to 10 points with just over six minutes left in the game, then picked up back-to-back assists on drives and kick-outs for three-pointers to sophomore forward John Weiss (Cleveland, Ohio) and senior guard Evan Zahniser (Mercer Island, Wash.), but the lead was still only nine points (71-62) as Chapman kept scoring on the other end.

Pomona-Pitzer still led by seven with 1:45 to go, when Chapman's Ben Ricard scored on a lay-up, poked the ball away in the backcourt and received a pass from Brandon Lin for another lay-up to make the score 74-71 with 1:27 left. Chapman forced the Sagehens into another turnover, but Zahniser blocked a possible tying three-point attempt from Chapman.

Maki then made both ends of his first one-and-one to push the lead to five, before another Ricard lay-up pulled the Panthers within 76-73. Zahniser made his two foul shots to give the Sagehens a 78-73 lead with 17 seconds to play, but Lin came right back with a three-pointer to pull the Panthers within two with 10 seconds left. Pomona-Pitzer needed to spend two timeouts to get the ball inbounds, but finally put the ball in the hands of Maki, who made both ends of a one-and-one with six seconds left to make it a two-possession game, before Taylor Hamasaki banked in a three just before the final buzzer to make the final 80-79.

Chapman also banked in a three at the buzzer of the first half (from Jordan Young), as they were able to whittle a 31-20 Pomona-Pitzer lead down to 36-32 at the break. The Sagehens started the game with a 10-2 lead, and after Chapman pulled even 10-10 (the only time in the game when Pomona-Pitzer did not lead), the Sagehens answered with another 10-2 run to move ahead 20-12.

Maki led five Sagehens in double figures with 15 points, while Zahniser added 14, Weiss added 12, and forwards Jake Klewer (Tucson, Ariz.) and Jack Klukas (Eden Prairie, Minn.) each had 11. Lin led all scorers with 19 points, while he and Jordan Young (16 points) each knocked down five three-pointers for Chapman, which was 13-24 from beyond the arc in the loss. There were so few missed shots in the game, that the Sagehens held the rebounding advantage just 23-21.

Pomona-Pitzer will cap off the Fulmer Tournament in the championship game tomorrow at 7:30, while Chapman will play in the consolation game at 5:30.