LOS ANGELES — All season she was the best player in the SCIAC. Now it's official.
Occidental College forward Makenzie Brandon (Seattle) was named the 2011-12 SCIAC Women's Basketball Player of the Year on Tuesday after a string of dominating performances carried the Tigers to their fifth consecutive regular season SCIAC championship.
Brandon, the conference's leading scorer with 18.1 points per game, led the Tigers to a 13-1 SCIAC record, making them just the second team since the conference expanded to a 14-game schedule in 20001-02 to win that many.
Rowe and Messick, Oxy's 6-foot-3 post players, averaged 4.3 blocks and 14 rebounds per game between them. Rowe, a junior, was second on the team in scoring with 8.8 per game and Messick, a sophomore, averaged 5.2.
Brandon scored 20 or more points in eight regular season conference games and 30 or more twice, including a 36-point performance in a win over Whittier College on Jan. 19.
She seemed to get better when the moment got bigger.
In two wins against second-place Redlands, the 5-foot-10 junior averaged 29.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 steals. The second time the schools met, both with 9-1 conference records and four games to play, Brandon outscored the entire Redlands team in the second half, totaling 25 points to the Bulldogs' 22, giving Oxy a 59-48 win.
"Mak," as she's known by her teammates, has been named First Team All-SCIAC three years in a row.
Overall, Brandon scored 15 or more points in the second half four times to help Oxy win despite halftime deficits.
In the Tigers last game of the season — a 51-49 loss to Cal Lutheran in the semi finals of the SCIAC tournament — Brandon posted her third double-double of the season (23 points, 11 rebounds) and surpassed the 1,000 career-point mark. She's now at 1,003 in three years at Oxy.
She was much more than just a scorer too.
Brandon also ranked among the top 10 in the SCIAC in field goal percentage (49.9), rebounding (6.8), assists (2.4) and free throw percentage (78.5).
On New Years Eve, Brandon hit a 15-foot buzzer beater as time expired to beat Monmouth (Ill.) 67-66.
The kinesiology major was named the SCIAC Female Student-Athlete of the Week five times this season and earned a spot on the NCAA Division III Capital One All-Academic District 8 team on Feb. 2 for her performance in the classroom, along with on the court.
As a team, Oxy had one of its better seasons in school history come to an end too soon. The Tigers tied the all-time Oxy overall win total of 22 games and won the school's eighth overall SCIAC championship, before losing the Cal Lu in the conference tournament.
On Monday when the NCAA Division III brackets were released, the Tigers found out that they did not get an at-large bid to the tournament despite boasting the third-best in-region record in the West (20-2).
The Tigers return all five starters and graduate just Gabby Hirsch-Gonsalez.
Player of the Year – Makenzie Brandon – Occidental – Junior
Newcomer of the Year – Alexis Sones – Pomona-Pitzer – Junior
Co-Baldwin Award Winner – Theresa Juarez – Caltech – Senior
Co-Baldwin Award Winner – Asha Gipson – Pomona-Pitzer- Senior
All-SCIAC First Team
Mariah Barbetti-Cort, Sr., Redlands
Courtney Carroll, Sr., Redlands
Frannie Hemmelgarn, Jr., Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
Dannika Navales-Lugtu, Fr., Whittier
Katelyn Rowe, Jr., Occidental
Erica Whitley, Jr., Cal Lutheran
All-SCIAC Second Team
Amanda Copas, Jr., LaVerne
Channing Fleischmann, Jr., Cal Lutheran
Chelsey Hastigan, Sr., Cal Lutheran
Elizabeth Messick, So., Occidental
Megan Musashi, So., LaVerne
Kalika Tullock, Sr., Claremont-Mudd-Scripps