La Verne, Calif. – Freshman guard Michael Cohen (Tarzana, Calif.) had 13 of his 15 points in the second half and the Pomona-Pitzer Men's Basketball team used a late 17-0 run to capture a 74-63 road win over La Verne on Saturday evening.
With the win, the Sagehens improve to 13-8 overall and 8-3 in the SCIAC, putting them on the verge of clinching a SCIAC berth. The top four teams qualify for the postseason, and Pomona-Pitzer is currently tied for second with Whittier (two games behind CMS), three games ahead of fifth-place Occidental and Cal Lutheran with three games left to play and needing just one win to clinch a trip to the postseason. La Verne, meanwhile, falls to 5-17 and 2-9 overall.
La Verne led for most of the second half, and took a 61-57 lead on two straight baskets from Jake Veith with 5:31 to play, but the Sagehens answered with a pivotal 17-0 run. Senior guard Evan Zahniser (Mercer Island, Wash.) started the run with a lay-up, and sophomore forward Jake Klewer (Tucson, Ariz.) hit a reverse to give Pomona-Pitzer the lead for good at 63-61.
After Pomona-Pitzer earned a stop, Cohen drove to the basket and made a crucial lay-up and foul with 1:58 left to stretch the lead to 66-61 with 1:58 to go. Klewer then grabbed a defensive rebound off a missed three-pointer and made two foul shots to give the Sagehens a 68-61 lead. Zahniser grabbed the next defensive rebound and found Klewer behind the defense for a dunk with 1:07 to go, and freshman forward Jack Klukas (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and senior guard R.J. Maki (Claremont, Calif.) each added two free throws to finish off the 17-0 run to make it 74-61.
Trevor Woodland made a jumper with 17 seconds left for La Verne for the only points in the final five minutes for the Leopards.
Pomona-Pitzer held an eight-point lead in the first half at 21-13, but it quickly disappeared, as La Verne hit three straight three-pointers to take a one-point lead. A basket from junior forward Donald Okpalugo (Manchester, England) in the closing seconds of the first half gave the Sagehens a 31-30 lead going into halftime.
Cohen had just one point in the first half on 0-3 shooting, but shot 5-8 in the second half on his way to scoring 13 crucial points in the game's final 10:50. Klewer finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, while Klukas was also in double figures with 11. Woodland led all scorers with 18 for the Leopards.
Pomona-Pitzer will be back in action on Wednesday when it hosts Occidental with a chance to clinch a postseason bid with a victory. Occidental won the first meeting in Los Angeles 64-56 back on Jan. 28.