Claremont, Calif. - Senior guard Xavyr Moss scored 24 points and senior forward John Weiss added 18 as the Pomona-Pitzer Men's Basketball team knocked off No. 15 St. Thomas (Minn.) 80-77 in its season opener on Friday evening at Voelkel Gymnasium.
The Sagehens defeated a St. Thomas team that reached the NCAA Division III Final Four last season despite missing leading 2012-13 leading scorer Kyle McAndrews with an injury.
Pomona-Pitzer built a 14-point lead early in the second half and held on the rest of the way, withstanding several St. Thomas rallies. The Tommies took two three-pointers in the final minute with a chance to get the win with the Sagehens up by two, but were unable to convert.
After a five-second violation on Pomona-Pitzer with 24.4 seconds left gave St. Thomas its final chance, the Tommies worked the clock down to five seconds, and Cortez Tillman got a tough look from the top of the key under defensive pressure. Senior forward Jake Klewer grabbed the rebound in traffic with 0.3 seconds left and sealed the game with a foul shot.
Freshman forward Nick Nordale added 15 points in his college debut, including one of the biggest shots of the night for the Sagehens in the middle of the second half and two pressure foul shots at the end. Pomona-Pitzer led 43-29 early in the second half on a three-point play from Klewer, but St. Thomas went on a furious rally to close within 47-46 with 13:15 left on a Tillman three-pointer. The Sagehens called a timeout, and Nordale hit a three-pointer to stem the tide, before adding a lay-up to make the score 58-50 and cap off an 11-4 run.
Two Moss free throws with 5:05 left gave Pomona-Pitzer a 72-59 lead and it seemed that it would be able to cruise in for a win, but the Tommies once again rallied, pulling within 77-75 on a Connor Nord lay-up with 1:56 to go. After neither team could score on their next two possessions, Nordale made free throws with 32 seconds left, before Tengwall made a lay-up off a feed from Zach Riedeman to close within two points, but the Tommies could come no closer.
Weiss finished with a strong all-around stat line of 18 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals. Klewer chipped with 10 points and six rebounds. Nord led the Tommies with 18 points and seven rebounds.
Pomona-Pitzer will be back in action on Tuesday when it travels to Biola for a 7:30 p.m. contest.