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Pomona-Pitzer’s season ends with loss in NCAA Division III tournament

Pomona-Pitzer’s season ends with loss in NCAA Division III tournament
Whitman College's Robert Colson, center, battles for a rebound against Pomona-Pitzer during Whitman's 83-74 victory in the NCAA Division III tournament on Saturday. (Greg Lehman / Associated Press)

There was still a chance for Pomona-Pitzer to keep the season alive, still time for the Sagehens to mount a comeback.

But midway through the second half of their NCAA Division III tournament game on Saturday night, the defense that had carried them through most of the season began to falter.

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Giving up a string of three-pointers and layups, the 11th-ranked Sagehens fell to No. 2 Whitman College, 83-74, in a second-round game at Walla Walla, Wash.

“I thought we got a little worn down,” coach Charlie Katsiaficas said. “We weren’t getting back and getting organized defensively.”

Pomona-Pitzer, which finished at 26-3, had defeated Whitman in double-overtime earlier this season.

On Saturday, the Sagehens won the battle of statistics, out-shooting and out-rebounding Whitman, as senior guard Daniel Rosenbaum led all scorers with 20 points.

That was good enough for a 36-34 lead at halftime, but Whitman has shown a knack for staging comebacks.

“We’ve been in a lot of situations where we’ve taken punches from teams,” wingman Austin Butler said. “We know we’re capable of responding.”

The momentum began to swing early in the second half.

With Pomona-Pitzer missing shots and turning the ball over, Whitman opened a 53-44 lead. The score stayed within reach, but only for a few more minutes.

“They went on that hot streak,” Katsiaficas said. “And that’s often what determines games.”

Butler and Joey Hewitt led Whitman with 18 points each.

Despite the loss, Pomona-Pitzer set a school record for regular-season victories and earned a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title for the first time in more than a decade.

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