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The Sagehen Report: Week of February 27

 Alex Lincoln '14 won two SCIAC championships this week in the freestyle by a combined nine-hundredths of a second.

Alex Lincoln '14 won two SCIAC championships this week in the freestyle by a combined nine-hundredths of a second.

Kyle McAndrews '15 made three clutch foul shots with 0.4 seconds left to give the Men’s Basketball team a 51-50 road win over No. 11 CMS in the regular season finale.

Kyle McAndrews '15 made three clutch foul shots with 0.4 seconds left to give the Men’s Basketball team a 51-50 road win over No. 11 CMS in the regular season finale.

Close finishes were the theme of the week in Pomona-Pitzer athletics, with many events coming right down to the last seconds. Or even tenths and hundredths of seconds.

The biggest success story in a week of fantastic finishes was Alex Lincoln ’14 of the Pomona-Pitzer Women’s Swimming and Diving team. Lincoln earned two SCIAC championships in the 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle events, which remarkably she won by a combined nine-hundredths of a second (winning by about the length of a finger in each).

On Monday, she earned the first SCIAC title in her young career when she came from behind in the 200-yard freestyle to beat Margo Macready by just four-hundredths of a second (1:54.27 to 1:54.31). Macready led by several feet going into the final few strokes, but Lincoln’s final push to the wall gave her the win in a photo finish that caused gasps in the crowd when the results went up on the scoreboard.

Ordinarily, you could call it a once-in-a-lifetime type of win, but it wasn’t even a once-in-24-hours win for Lincoln, who came back on Tuesday and caught Chandra Lukes of Redlands from behind on the final push in the 100-yard freestyle, winning by five-hundredths of a second and setting a school record with a 52.21. Lincoln was undefeated in both the 100 and 200 yard freestyle in the SCIAC (as well as in all dual meets this season), losing only to two swimmers from NAIA Grand Canyon (Ariz.) way back in October at the Redlands Invitational.

For good measure, Lincoln swam the anchor leg in the final event of the championship, the 400-yard freestyle relay, and helped the Sagehens finish second by barely beating out the Redlands team by .15, enabling her to beat the Bulldogs to the wall by a combined .24 in three different events. Lincoln will now wait and see if she qualifies for the NCAA Division III Championships next month in Indianapolis.

If Lincoln does qualify, she would join Men’s Swimmer Max Scholten ’12, who earned one first-place and two second-place finishes in individual events in his final SCIAC Tournament. Scholten defended his title in the 100-yard backstroke, but was edged out in the 200-yard backstroke by Jeff Depew of Redlands. However, Scholten already had his automatic qualifying time for the NCAA’s in that event, which he set back in December. The Pomona-Pitzer Men’s and Women’s Swimming teams both finished third overall in the SCIAC Championships, behind CMS and Redlands.  

The swimming teams were also honored out of the pool as they both ranked in the top five in the nation in Division III in team GPA (the men were third with a 3.56, the women were fifth with a 3.55). They join a growing list of Pomona-Pitzer teams that have been ranked in the top 10 academically nationally this year in their respective sports (softball was fourth, men’s cross country fifth, women’s cross country ninth).

Another memorable photo finish occurred in the regular season finale for the Men’s Basketball team, as Kyle McAndrews ’15 made three foul shots with just 0.4 seconds left to give the Sagehens a 51-50 win over No. 11 CMS. McAndrews gave Pomona-Pitzer a 48-47 lead on a lay-up with 30 seconds to go, but CMS answered with a three-pointer with 10 seconds on the clock. McAndrews then took a pass in the right corner and was hit on the elbow by CMS’ Remy Pinson while shooting a three-pointer. With the overflow crowd at Ducey Gym going crazy trying to distract him, McAndrews made all three foul shots for the victory.

The teams would ultimately meet again on Saturday in the SCIAC championship game, but not before McAndrews put on an encore performance with 22 points (18 in the second half) in a win over Whittier in the SCIAC semifinals. Pomona-Pitzer trailed 20-8 late in the first half after starting out 2-20 from the floor, before finally getting some offense going and crawling back to within 23-18 at the half. With the two teams trading baskets coming down the homestretch, Jack Klukas ’15 nailed a pair of three-pointers in the closing minutes to help give the Sagehens some separation, including a big one with just under 2:00 to go to stretch the lead to five.

The championship game against CMS on Saturday seemed like it was not going to be Pomona-Pitzer’s night, as the Sagehens were struggling to find offense and fell behind 43-27 with nine minutes to play. However, Po Grant PI ’13 came off the bench with three big three-pointers to get the Sagehens back to within 45-41 with five minutes left. After CMS got the lead back up to nine, Jake Klewer ’14 had a three-point play, Michael Cohen ’15 made a three-pointer and McAndrews hit a lay-up to bring Pomona-Pitzer within 55-53 with 40 seconds left. However, CMS was able to make five of its six free throws to hold on for the win and leave the Sagehens as the tournament runner-up. Pomona-Pitzer got the brink of a championship this season with a young nucleus that featured three freshmen and two sophomore in its top five scorers, leaving the program in great shape for the future, although the veteran leadership of Evan Zahniser ’12, R.J. Maki ’11 (CGU ’13), Danny Brown ’12 and Greg Wright ’12 will be missed.

One team that avoided the close finish theme in conference play was Pomona-Pitzer Softball, which pulled back to an even 2-2 in the SCIAC by taking two mercy-rule wins from Occidental, 9-1 and 8-0, on Saturday. Leah Bleichner ’15 was 4-for-4 in the doubleheader, including 3-for-3 with two RBI in the opening game. Emily Glass ’15, Jessica Liu ’15, and Ari Roach PI ’12 were all 2-for-3 in the opener, while Ashley Morello PI ’15 was 3-for-4 in the nightcap. Fiona Riley ’15 threw a three-hitter in the second game for her first career shutout. However, Pomona-Pitzer then ended up in a tough loss in another close finish out of conference on Sunday, as a 3-1 lead slipped away in the seventh and La Sierra came away with a 4-3 win in 10 innings. The Sagehens will be back in the SCIAC when it faces La Verne at home this Saturday at 12 noon.

Baseball received another pitching gem from Travis Rooke-Ley PI ’12, who tossed a six-hit shutout in the first game of a three-game series with Cal Lutheran, a 3-0 Sagehen victory. Erik Munzer PI ’13 hit a two-run homer in the third, and Nick Gentili ’13 added a solo shot in the eighth for the Pomona-Pitzer runs. The down-to-the-wire finishes did not go Pomona-Pitzer’s way in the doubleheader at Cal Lutheran on Saturday, as the Kingsmen scored twice with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to take a 6-5 win in the opener, and then held on for a 3-2 win in the nightcap as the Sagehens left two runners on in the ninth. Pomona-Pitzer will be in action at home this weekend against Occidental for an 11 a.m. doubleheader.

Men’s Tennis went 1-2 at the prestigious ITA Indoor Nationals in St.Peter, Minnesota, falling to No. 7 Kenyon and No. 8 Trinity (Texas) 6-3 and beating host Gustavus Adolphus 6-3. Tommy Meyer was 2-1 at No. 1 singles on the weekend, improving to 3-1 on the year against tough competition, which also included No. 4 (NAIA) Azusa Pacific in the season opener earlier this month. The doubles team of Frankie Allinson ’13 and Max Sabel PI ’13 was 3-0 on the weekend.

Women’s Lacrosse had a nail-biting finish of its own, but lost a 7-6 home decision to Occidental despite playing with no available substitutes due to several injuries. Logan Galansky ’14 keyed a second half comeback with two goals she created herself at the end of long runs through several defenders. The Sagehens had one final chance as it got to a loose ball with 20 seconds to play, but they were whistled for a foul and Occidental was able to run out the clock. Pomona-Pitzer will have a Tuesday night home game with Adrian College this week at Merritt Field. 

Men’s Water Polo received some accolades from the offseason as Alex Rodriguez was named the Division III Coach of the Year after leading the Sagehens to a SCIAC championship. Kyle Pokorny ’12 and Jason Cox PI ’13 were named first-team All-Americans and Cody Moore ’13 and Mark Hudnall ’13 were named to the second team. 

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