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January 26, 2013

Tigers stage late comeback, fall to Chapman by two

By Ryan Graff
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LOS ANGELES — Despite erasing a 13-point lead down the stretch, the Occidental College women's basketball team could not overcome the frenzied play of Chapman, falling 58-56 on Saturday in Rush Gymnasium.

The Panthers had their largest lead of the night, up 48-35 with 10:46 left in the game, before Occidental orchestrated a 21-9 run to bring themselves within one point with less than thirty seconds remaining. Katelyn Rowe (Carlsbad) capped the run with a clutch 15-footer off of two Makenzie Brandon (Seattle, Wash.) offensive rebounds and a Liz Little (Littleton, Colo.) assist.

On the ensuing possession, SCIAC Female Athlete of the Week Elizabeth Messick (Reno, Nev.) missed a mid-range jump shot off front iron, forcing Occidental to foul and eventually led to the Chapman two-point victory that snapped the Tigers' five game winning streak.

Brandon, who challeneged the NCAA Division III women's single-game scoring record with 54 points against La Verne on Thursday, recorded a double-double with 19 points and 18 rebounds and completely took control of the game in the waning moments, coming up with crucial rebounds on both ends of the floor and facilitating the tempo of the Tiger comeback.

Little scored six of her nine points from three-point territory, knocking down consecutive three balls in the final minutes to erase a then 0 for 7 performance from beyond the arc to keep the Tigers (12-6, 7-2 SCIAC) within striking distance.

Due to the addition of Chapman this year as the ninth SCIAC team, Occidental's conference schedule began over a month earlier than normal. In just their second SCIAC game of the campaign dating back to Dec. 1, the Tigers posted a 68-59 road win over the Panthers.

Saturday's contest was similar with regards to pace, but also contained a lot more drama and much more aggressive play. The Panthers jumped out to an early 14-5 lead over the Tigers just five minutes into the game. However, Occidental followed a Chapman timeout with a 9-2 run, reducing the Panther advantage to 16-14 with 10:12 left in the first half. The teams mostly traded buckets for the remainder of the period, and Occidental found themselves down 30-24 at halftime.

The Tigers also turned the ball over 17 times in the period — nine of which were Chapman steals — leading to 16 Panther points. Oxy was able to reverse this trend, giving up the ball just four times in the second half and reducing the points-off-turnovers deficit to a respectable 21-15.

Despite this, Chapman took eleven more shots than Occidental and obtained far more opportunities, outrebounding the Tigers on the offensive end 18-12. The Panthers finished with three players in double figures to Occidental's one. The Tigers did dominate the fast break and bench points categories, though, outscoring the Panthers 12-4 in transition and 19-4 off the bench mainly due to Stephanie Scamman's (Northridge) performance as a substitute. Scamman, who has been nursing an injured hand, saw 22 minutes of playing time and recorded seven points and four rebounds.

A high-octane approach dictated by both teams engaging a tenacious full court press led to 46 total fouls and both parties reached the double bonus with substantial time left in both halves. A total of ten players each had at least three personal fouls in the game.

Depending on seeding, Occidental may face the Panthers for a rubber match in the SCIAC Tournament that begins on Feb. 21.

The Tigers sit in second in SCIAC with two losses, trailing Cal Lu (9-2) for first place. Occidental travels to Caltech on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and will attempt to avenge a loss to Cal Lu next Saturday at 5 p.m. at home.