Sagehens Look To Defend Home Court Against Cal Lutheran Wednesday

Sagehens Look To Defend Home Court Against Cal Lutheran Wednesday

Claremont, Calif. - With two weeks left in the regular season, the Pomona-Pitzer Men's Basketball team hosts an important SCIAC match-up against Cal Lutheran on Wednesday night (7:30 p.m.) at Voelkel Gymnasium.

The Sagehens took over sole possession of second place in the SCIAC (7-2) with a 74-68 win over Redlands on Saturday, leaving them one game behind first-place Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (8-1). Redlands and Whittier are both tied for third at 6-3 with five games to play, as the top four has separated themselves from the rest of the league (the top four teams qualify for the SCIAC). Occidental is still lurking at 4-5, though, while Cal Lutheran is tied for sixth at 3-6 and can still make a move with a strong finish.

CMS hosts last place Caltech on Wednesday night, which means the Sagehens will likely need to defend their home court against Cal Lutheran to keep pace and stay one game behind. The last game of the regular season pits Pomona-Pitzer at CMS, which could turn into a battle for the top seed in the SCIAC Tournament if the Sagehens can stay within one game of the nationally ranked Stags.

The first time the Sagehens met Cal Lutheran was on Jan. 7, when the Kingsmen rallied from a 15-point second half deficit to tie the score late in the game before Pomona-Pitzer escaped with a 61-56 win. Martin Flowers had 24 of his 26 in the second half to spur the comeback, but senior guard Evan Zahniser (Mercer Island, Wash. - pictured) stopped the rally with a three-point play, and freshman guard Michael Cohen (Tarzana, Calif.) had 14 points to help the Sagehens hold on. 

Cohen enters the week leading a balanced Pomona-Pitzer offense with 11.9 points per game. Fellow freshman Jack Klukas (Eden Prairie, Minn.) is also in double figures with 10.4 points per game, while three other players are averaging 8.4 points - sophomore forward Jake Klewer (Tucson, Ariz.), sophomore forward John Weiss (Cleveland, Ohio) and freshman guard Kyle McAndrews (Seattle, Wash.), giving the Sagehens a young nucleus.

Pomona-Pitzer also has some experienced supporting players, including Zahniser (4.7 ppg), graduate student R.J. Maki (Claremont, Calif.) at 4.5 ppg, junior forward Po Grant (Brookline, Mass. - 4.3 ppg) and senior wing Danny Brown (Eugene, Ore. - 4.1 ppg). Junior forward Donald Okpalugo (Manchester, U.K.) has returned from a study group the second semester and added some frontcourt presence, helping to replace senior forward Greg Wright (Oakland, Ore.), who has been out with an injury since the start of January.

Klukas helped the Sagehens break out of a scoring slump with 28 points in the win over Redlands on Saturday, the highest total for anyone on the team this season. Pomona-Pitzer had suffered through some long scoring droughts in its previous two games, a loss at Occidental and a tight win at Caltech, but responded with a 74-point performance, its highest point total in conference play this season. The Sagehens are still shooting a solid 45.4 percent as a team, including 38.5 percent from three-point territory, a big upgrade from last season, when it shot 36.8 percent overall and 26.8 percent from three.

Cal Lutheran comes in at 7-12 overall and 3-6 in the SCIAC, put poses a significant threat, thanks to one of the top players in the league in center Aaron Van Klaveren, who averages 16.4 points and 11.5 rebounds per game, numbers which go up to 17.4 points and 12.9 rebounds in conference. The Kingsmen gave first-place Claremont-Mudd-Scripps a significant scare on the road just two weeks ago, before falling 59-53.

To follow the action live, the Claremont Sports Connection broadcast can be seen and heard at the following link (which can also be accessed on game days at