Brulee-Wills Leads the Way to Sagehens First Win

There was no Thanksgiving break for the Pomona-Pitzer women’s basketball team last weekend. The Sagehens teamed up with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps to host the David Wells Classic, and hit the hardwood for two tough games over the holiday weekend. In the first game of the weekend, the Hens fell to the talented University of California, Santa Cruz Banana Slugs on Friday, before breaking into the win column on Saturday with a convincing 57-43 victory over the Arizona Christian University Firestorm.

Despite a strong game from forward Basha Brulee-Wills PZ ’17, who picked up her third double-double in just four games, the Sagehens were unable to keep up with the high-powered UC Santa Cruz offense in the first game of the weekend. Led by forward Sarah Mackey, who had 19 points and five rebounds in just 17 minutes of floor time, the Banana Slugs built an early lead around the 10-minute mark of the first half and never looked back. A poor day shooting-wise for the Hens—they made only 14 of 52 from the field—contributed to a 19-point lead at the half for the Banana Slugs, who made over 50 percent of their shots from the field. 

Christina Rimicci and Jasmine Dimson each had 11 points off the bench for UC Santa Cruz. Brulee-Wills led the Sagehens with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Jenn Okonkwo PO ’16, the leading scorer for the Hens with an average of 17 points per game, was unable to play for P-P, taking away one of their major scoring threats down-low. A 14-2 run from the Banana Slugs to start the second half sealed the deal for UC Santa Cruz. With the loss, the Hens dropped to 0-4 on the year, having faced some tough teams thus far including Whitman College and Whitworth University, both of which made the NCAA tournament last year. The Banana Slugs improved to 4-2 with the win.

Saturday found the Hens taking on the Arizona Christian Firestorm, who played a close game against CMS the day before but ultimately fell 68-64. The Firestorm built an early lead, thanks in large part to guard Prayer Branham, who had 13 points and four assists. Trailing 13-5 seven minutes into the game, the Sagehens stepped up their play on defense, holding Arizona Christian to only seven points for the rest of the half. At the same time, the Hens found their touch on the offensive end, going on a 29-7 run to close out the first half. Guard Alaina Woo PO ’17 began a 21-0 run by making back-to-back three-pointers to give the Hens a lead that they never lost. 

Nevertheless, Arizona Christian did not give up, despite being down 14 points at the half. The Firestorm cut the lead to just 10 on a Shannon Harte jump shot with nine minutes left. Brulee-Wills responded, after the Sagehens forced a turnover, with an impressive spin move and lay-up. The Hens extended the lead to 16 briefly, and never allowed it to drop below 13. The final score was 57-43. With the win, the Hens improved to 1-4 on the season, while the Arizona Christian Firestorm dropped to 2-5. 

The Hens had a very balanced scoring sheet, getting contributions from a number of players. Brulee-Wills led all scorers with 17 points. Forward Amelia Hummel PZ ‘16 had nine points, six rebounds, and four assists while fellow forward Alice Timken PO ’16 added eight points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Forward Ruthie Shapiro PZ ‘15 played well in her second game back, having missed the first three games due to injury. Shapiro led the way with 10 rebounds and also added five assists, four steals, and four points to aid P-P. 

Coached by Kathy Connell, the Sagehens are a very young team consisting of two juniors, four sophomores, and six first-years. The team has already faced off against some very good talent in Whitworth and Whitman, and stuck with both teams for most of those two games. P-P even had a lead against Whitman at half, but in the second half the Missionaries took over and the Hens were unable to keep pace with Whitman’s offensive outburst.

The Sagehens picked up where they left off on Thursday in their SCIAC opener, beating a strong California Lutheran University squad that had started the season 2-1. The Sagehens used a late 14-0 run and played shutdown defense all game long to secure the 56-46 victory and their first SCIAC win of the season. They will look to continue their winning ways on Saturday against Caltech. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. at Caltech. 

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