LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The Championship game of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference 2011 Women's Basketball Post Season Tournament belonged to the Tigers from the get-go as the league champion Tigers defeated Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 55-49 at Rush Gymnasium this evening, punching a Playoff ticket before cutting down the nets before an excited crowd.
A slow start on both sides, saw little happen in the first eight minutes, but when Oxy broke a 6-6 tie with just over 11 minutes to play in the opening half they used a 16-6 run to close out the period and take the momentum out of the sails of the Athenas, never looking back.
Occidental opened as much as a 13-point lead, but CMS would hang tough, chipping back within five points with 3:38 to play but Michelle Lo countered with one of her two three-pointers of the night to give the Tigers an eight point cushion with 1:27 to play in the second stanza. Laura Mohler was not ready to see her senior season come to an end, knocking down two pairs of free-throws, with the final two to seal the victory for the Black and Orange, giving the home squad a nine points edge with 12 seconds remaining in regulation.
Makenzie Brandon all but took over the game for the Tigers, scoring a game-high 22 points shooting 8-for-11 from the field, 2-for-2 from long range and 4-for-6 from the stripe. She would add seven rebounds, second most on the team.
The Tigers shot at a 42 percent clip overall as Brandon and Mohler (10) each reached double figures. Lo came off the bench to supply seven points as well. Oxy's outside shooters were hot from behind the arc, connecting for six triples in 11 opportunities. Both Brandon and Lo were 2-for-2.
On the glass, CMS out-rebounded Oxy 35-32 and doubled the Tigers up on the offensive end with eight to Oxy's four, but it was the turnovers that the Tigers caused that made the difference. CMS committed 19, leading to 17 Oxy points. Katelyn Rowe had a team-high eight rebounds, followed by Brandon's seven, adding five blocks. Stephanie Babij stepped up to play solid defense throughout, coming up with a few huge stops in the second half. She finished with three of the 10 Tigers' steals while handing out three assists. Stephanie Scamman forced more turnovers than the two steals she came away with and was once again a nuisance on the hardwood for the Athenas.
CMS was led by Frannie Hemmelgarn with a 19-point, 14-rebound double-double for the Athenas.
The NCAA Tournament berth will be the second in school history, with the first coming in 2009 when Babij was a sophomore. The Tigers have earned four consecutive SCIAC Titles in women's basketball, marking the most successful stretch in the history of the program.
Occidental (18-8, 12-2 SCIAC) will await the NCAA Selection show scheduled for Monday, Feb. 28 at noon to find out when and who they will be playing. Games are set to begin later in the week.
Article by Tracy Maple, Sports Information Director