CLAREMONT — Juwan Rice scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds, but first-place Claremont-Mudd-Scripps was too much for the Occidental College men's basketball team on Wednesday.
The Tigers fall to 9-11 overall and 4-7 in SCIAC play. CMS stays undefeated in conference, moving to 10-0, and improves to 15-4 overall.
Oxy hung in until around the 12-minute mark in the second half when CMS made their push and put the game out of reach, 83-60.
Defense was a problem for the Tigers, who played man-to-man, zone and even pressed to try to get stops. Nothing seemed to work well enough as the Stags shot 62.5 percent from the field and 56.3 percent from the 3-point line.
Rice had the most favorable matchup offensively for Oxy, with SCIAC Athlete of the Year candidate Tyler Gaffaney guarding Oxy star Kris Montoya the entire game. Rice took advantage with aggressive drives to the basket, and even hit a pair of three-pointers against CMS' sagging, man-to-man defense. He also led the Tigers with seven rebounds – three of them at the offensive end.
Montoya finished with seven points and four rebounds, attracting a lot of attention from the Stags scouting report.
Gaffaney had a big night, scoring a game-high 23 points with eight rebounds, eight assists and no turnovers. Shelby Lane had 12 and Jack Grodahl and Remy Pinson had 10.
Despite the loss, the Tigers still have hope to make the four-team SCIAC postseason tournament. Oxy has two games left against Redlands (4-7 SCIAC), one at home against Chapman (a team they already beat this year), one on the road against Pomona-Pitzer and one against Whittier at home. If Oxy goes at least 4-1, with the way the conference has been separated between the top three teams and everyone else, it is likely that they will be in some sort of tiebreaker situation for the fourth seed.
Oxy begins the five-game stretch to close the season with Redlands at 5 p.m. at Rush Gymnasium on Satuday.