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March 4, 2011

Tigers Playoff run ends prematurely

ORANGE, Calif. – Although Occidental pulled within a pair mid-way through the second half, the Bruins were too much for the Tigers at the Hutton Sports Center on the campus of Chapman University as the women's basketball team fell, 53-46, to George Fox University in the First Round of the Division III Basketball Tournament tonight.

The teams were locked at 15-10 for more than four minutes mid-way through the opening half. Occidental pulled within a pair on a Michelle Lo free-throw, but George Fox then used a 9-0 run to open an 11-point cushion, their first double-figure lead of the game, 24-13, with just under four minutes to play.

Neither team drove to the basket much in the opening half, opting for 10 to 15 foot jumpers while very few fouls were called. The Tigers forced 14 George Fox turnovers in the opening 20 minutes, but the Bruins more than doubled up the Tigers on the glass, grabbing 26 rebounds (seven offensive) to Oxy's 12 (four offensive), proving to be one difference in the first stanza. Occidental was unable to convert fast-break opportunities and had trouble driving to the hoop.

With 11 seconds to play in the first, however, Stephanie Scamman forced a turnover on the baseline and Katelyn Rowe scored in the paint to cut the deficit to 28-19 at the intermission.

After the break Occidental's defense stepped up, forcing turnovers on three of the first four Bruins' possessions, but down the stretch it was the Bruins who controlled the tempo and the scoreboard.

Laura Mohler knocked down her only three-pointer of the night to pull the Tigers back in it at 36-30 with a shade under 13 minutes in regulation. She then helped the Black and Orange get even closer as she drove the baseline, pushing a no-look pass to Stephanie Babij, who scored in the paint as time on the shot clock was about to expire, cutting the Tigers' deficit to one bucket with 9:41 to play.

As soon as things got close and it seemed as though Occidental could make a push, the tides turned back in favor of the Oregon squad. As tempers momentarily flared and a technical was called on the Oxy bench, GF went to the free-throw line. The Bruins converted and regained another six point lead. That coupled with a series of four consecutive Oxy offensive rebounds, which they were unable to convert into any points, left the Tigers playing catch-up once again.

The closest that Occidental would get for the remainder of the game was four points when Rowe scored on an assist from Makenzie Brandon with 2:40 to go.

A Tigers' turnover with 1:44 and their inability to foul quickly, which ran almost 30 seconds off the game clock, knocked the wind out of the sails as George Fox connected for 5-of-6 free-throws in the final 2:30 to lock up the game.

The Tigers did not shoot particularly well, just 28 percent from the floor, and were just 1-for-11 from three-point range.

Brandon recorded a double-double for the Tigers with a 10-point, 10-rebound effort while Rowe led the team with 14 points. Scamman was 4-for-4 at the line as the team combined to go 11-for-14 at the stripe.

In the second half, Occidental was tougher on the boards, finishing with 13 offensive overall to George Fox's 11 although the Bruins came down with 43 total rebounds to the Tigers' 34. In her final game for Oxy, Babij grabbed six rebounds and Elizabeth Messick came off the bench to provide solid defense in the first half and continued that in the second, finishing with six rebounds and a pair of blocks. Rowe would also add a block as Brandon recorded one as well, also coming away with three steals while handing out a game-high five assists.

For George Fox, the 6-foot-5 Hannah Munger led all players with 20 points while Keisha Gordon was one behind with 19. Munger also had a team-high nine rebounds and three blocks.

George Fox University will move on to play the winner of the Louisiana College (24-3) versus Chapman University (22-5) game taking place this evening at the Hutton Sports Center.

Occidental concludes their SCIAC Championship season with an overall record of 19-10 and will bid farewell to a pair of seniors in First Team All-SCIAC Babij and Second Team All-SCIAC Mohler.

Article by Tracy Maple, Sports Information Director