LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Feb. 2, 2008) - The battle of the cats ended with the Tigers on top, handing the previously undefeated Leopardsa 69-65 loss, their first in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference action this winter, at Rush Gymnasium tonight.
Brianne Brown lit up the court in the second half with 29 points and 11 rebounds, finishing with a 33-point-18 rebounds double-double, as Occidental erased a 39-24 halftime deficit en route to their fourth straight win.
The Tigers used the first 15 minutes of the second half to lower the Leopards lead to one before Brown used a jumper at the 4:29 mark to give Oxy its first lead since five minutes had ticked off the clock in the first half.
Brown then took control of things on the court for Oxy, scoring the next eight points, which included a steal and a break-away layup and a pair of three-pointers. She also went on to knock down three of four free-throws, the last putting the Tigers up by 10 points.
ULV used back-to-back three pointers in the final 13 seconds to pull the game, which they once led by 17 points, to back within four, but the last score came with just two seconds to play.
Occidental led 7-6 with 15:06 to play, but La Verne quickly used a 9-0 run to take control of things early.
Although trailing, the Tigers continued to battle. Samantha Rossi came in off the bench and finished off a three-point play after being fouled as her shot sailed through the net, sinking her free-throw, pulling the Tigers within eight at 23-15. Oxy closed the gap even further, to five, at 28-22 on a three-pointer from Britinee Yasukochi before Stephanie Babij layed one in cutting the deficit to five again at 29-24.
La Verne then used a 10-0 run in the final 1:42 to open up a 15-point half time advantage as the scoreboard read 39-24.
Occidental shot 61.5 percent from the field (16-for-26) in the second half and held La Verne to just 29.4 % shooting. The Tigers hit 31.3 percent of their shots from long range, going 12-for-18 from the line as a team.
Joining Brown in double figures was senior Stacie Roshon who finished with 12. In addition to her point total, Brown added a team-high five assists and two of the Tigers' three steals in the game. Yasukochi and Roshon each dished out three assists as well.
Oxy was tough on the glass, out-rebounding La Verne by a 43-32 margin, with 13 boards coming on the offensive end of the court. Babij and Roshon each pulled down eight rebounds while Babij was credited with a pair of blocks. Brown added a block as well.
ULV forced eight first-half turnovers that led to 15 Leopards points, and took care of the ball themselves, committing just three turnovers in the opening period of play. In the second half, however, the Tigers turned the ball over just three times, as did the Leopards.
La Verne had four players reach double figures as Marissa Raya led the way with 22, adding two blocks and three assists. She and Ashley Paul, who added 12 points, each finished with seven rebounds and Lindsey Shiomi led all players with seven assists.
When things got rough, the Tigers kept on battling. "We showed a lot of character and heart tonight on the court," said Associate Head Coach Avi Meyerson. "We worked hard and executed our game plan in the second half."
The Oxy victory is the biggest SCIAC women's basketball upset of the 2007-08 season to date.
Occidental improves to 14-5 overall, 6-2 in SCIAC play, and now sit in second. ULV falls to 14-5 overall with a 7-1 SCIAC record, to put them in a tie with Redlands, who defeated Claremont-Mudd-Scripps tonight.
The Tigers will host the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas at Rush Gymnasium on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008 at 7:30 p.m.