CLAREMONT — The Occidental men's basketball team ran out of gas and into a very good Pomona-Pitzer team in a 68-45 loss in the SCIAC Tournament Championship on Saturday night.
It's a bitterweet ending to an outstanding season. Oxy finishes with its best overall record since 2007-08 at 22-5 overall, and went 12-4 in SCIAC play for the second season in a row.
One night after winning on the road in overtime at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 64-62, the Tigers came out on fire and with energy, going up 16-2 in the first 8 minutes. But Pomona-Pitzer settled in and quickly erased the lead, jumping in front 31-23 at halftime.
The Tigers hit a wall of fatigue and a wall of white shirts on offense and defense.
Oxy made a couple pushes to try to cut a growing lead down to under 10 in the second half, but it ballooned and the Tigers waved the white flag.
The game marks the end of the outstanding careers of seniors Austin DeWitz and Zach Baines, who both were First Team All-SCIAC selections in each of the last two seasons and a big part of Oxy's 25-10 run against SCIAC competition over that span. The run included two SCIAC Playoff Appearances, second and third place finishes in the regular season, a win over a national top 10 team, a road SCIAC Playoff win and an appearance in the SCIAC Championship game.
Brandon Ruotolo, also a senior captain, got a 5 minute run at the end of the game, hitting a three and a free throw for four points.
Caleb Yellin-Flaherty led Oxy with 11 points, Ryan Kaneshiro was good in all 40 minutes played with 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists, DeWitz added eight points and Baines had seven. Jacob Adler had five points and grabbed six rebounds.
The Tigers shot just 34 percent from the field for the game compared to Pomona-Pitzer's 50.
Micah Elan led Pomona-Pitzer with 21 points, five rebounds and five assists and was named the SCIAC Tournament MVP. Daniel Rosenbuam had 14 points, five rebounds and five assists, and Alex Preston had 12 points. James Kelbert was the spark for the Sagehens, playing the passing lanes and turning defense into offense. He finished with eight points on 4 for 5 from the field, along with two assists and three steals.
The Sagehens, currently ranked No. 14 in the country, will continue on in the NCAA Division III tournament, trying to add to an impressive 25-2 season.Follow Oxy Athletics on Twitter Sign Up for Newsletters Watch on Youtube Follow us on Instagram