January 26, 2012

Cohen Helps Sagehens Stay In First With 66-57 Road Win Over Whittier

Whittier, Calif. – Freshman guard Michael Cohen (Tarzana, Calif. - pictured) had 23 points off the bench to lead the Pomona-Pitzer Men's Basketball team to a 66-57 win over Whittier in a battle between two of the three teams tied for first place in the SCIAC on Wednesday evening.

With the win, Pomona-Pitzer moves to 10-6 on the year and 5-1 in the SCIAC, maintaining its share of first place in the league with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. Whittier slips to 12-5 overall and 4-2 in the SCIAC, falling out of first place after defeating CMS in double-overtime in its last home game on Saturday.

Cohen, freshman forward Jack Klukas (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and freshman guard Kyle McAndrews (Seattle, Wash.) were all in double figures, as the freshman class combined for 46 of Pomona-Pitzer's 66 points. Klukas finished with 13 points and McAndrews added 10.

The Sagehens also held Whittier to just 2-21 shooting from three-point territory, as Drew Menez, who came in leading the SCIAC in scoring (18.7 ppg) had only five points on 2-10 shooting. That came one game after Pomona-Pitzer held then-leading scorer Trevor Woodland of La Verne to only seven points on 2-16 shooting in a 64-57 home win on Saturday.

The Sagehens trailed 34-32 at the half and were down 41-38 with 12:30 to go, before Cohen and graduate student R.J. Maki (Claremont, Calif.) hit back-to-back threes to quickly turn the lead around to 44-41. A pair of foul shots from sophomore forward John Weiss (Cleveland, Ohio) stretched the lead to five, and Cohen hit a running bank shot to make it a 10-0 run and give Pomona-Pitzer a 48-41 lead.

A driving lay-up from Weiss gave the Sagehens a  54-45 lead with 6:05 left, and Cohen pushed the lead to 10 points with his fourth three-pointer of the game to make it 59-49 with 3:20 to go. Whittier answered with a three-pointer (only their second of the game in 19 attempts at that point) and a foul shot to cut it to 59-53. Cohen made two foul shots to push it to eight, before Whittier's Nathan Easterman made two foul shots with 1:16 left to cut it back to six.

However, Klukas then came up big with two offensive rebounds on the same possession, the second coming off his own missed three-pointer with the shot clock winding down. Cohen was fouled, and hit two more foul shots to seal the win, before Klukas went end-to-end off a defensive rebound to finish off his 13-point night.

The start of the game featured a wild change of momentum, as Whittier stunned the Sagehens with a 12-0 run that included three turnovers in the backcourt against the Poets' fullcourt press. However, Pomona-Pitzer regrouped and came right back with a 15-0 run, featuring eight points from Cohen, who started the run with a three-pointer, and ended it with another trey to give the Sagehens the 15-12 lead.

A three-pointer from Maki gave Pomona-Pitzer its largest lead at 22-16, but Whittier was able to quickly get back in it and went into the locker room ahead 34-32 on a lay-up from Easterman.

Easterman matched Cohen (7-12 from the floor, 4-9 from three) for game-high honors with 23 points in a losing cause for the Poets. Weiss was the only non-freshman for the Sagehens to score in double figures with 10 points, while sophomore forward Jake Klewer (Tucson, Ariz.) pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.

Pomona-Pitzer will be back in action on Saturday, when it travels to Occidental to complete the first half of the SCIAC's regular-season schedule.