|Whitman All-American Tim Howell missed this potential game-winning free throw at the end of regulation, but rebounded to close out Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in overtime.
Photo by Joseph Epperson, d3photography.com
One night after Claremont-Mudd-Scripps eliminated No. 2 Whitworth from the NCAA Tournament, the Stags almost did it again against top-ranked Whitman.
Claremont survived two missed free throws by Whitman All-American Tim Howell at the end of regulation, but Howell scored seven points in a row in the extra period to close out the Stags, 89-84.
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Whitman appeared on its way to a relatively easy second-round victory over Claremont after Austin Butler's layup put the Blues ahead 71-59 with 5:36 to play in the second half. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps trimmed the deficit to a more manageable size with a 7-0 run capped by three-pointers by Scott Lynds and Michael Scarlett. Whitman still led by five points with 46 seconds left until Miles President nailed a three to pull the Stags with two, 76-74, with 36 seconds left. Claremont fouled Howell who missed the ensuing free throw. The Stags grabbed the rebound and tied the game at 76 on Lynds' layup with 12 seconds left. Howell drew another foul on Claremont with 0.5 seconds left, giving him a chance to end the game at the foul line. Howell missed both shots and the teams headed to overtime.
The teams traded baskets and leads through the first couple minutes of the extra period. Howell gave Whitman the lead 81-80 with a jumper and then extended that lead to three at the foul on the Blues' next possession. Lynds scored for Claremont and Howell answered back with a layup, pushing the lead back to 85-82 with 71 seconds left in overtime. Scarlett cut the lead to one and Whitman missed its next shot but Cedric Jacobs-Jones grabbed the offensive rebounds for the Blues and the Stags had to foul Howell.
This time he hit both free throws to push the lead back to three, 87-84, and then he added two more after a missed Claremont layup. Robert Colton swiped the ball on Claremont's last possesion and Whitman celebrated the victory.
Whitman (28-1) shot 58 percent from the foul line (58 percent) but 50 percent from the field while Claremont (20-8) went just 4-for-10 from the foul line. Box score
When asked in the postgame press conference about the missed free throws at the end of regulation, Howell said, "I was kind of shaken up. I talked to my teammates. I got my focus back. I got another opportunity, thankfully."
Despite those misses, Whitman coach Eric Bridgeland did not hesitate to put the ball back in Howell's hands in overtime.
"The ball is going to be in one of these guys' hands when the game is on the line," he said in the postgame, pointing to Howell and Austin Butler who finished with 15 points despite foul trouble. "They're just special."
Howell finished with 35 points on 14-for-24 shooting in 36 minutes for the Blues who advance to the sectional semifinals at a site to be announced on Sunday afternoon.
Lynds scored 26 points and Scarlett added 23 more for Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (20-8).