The Pomona-Pitzer women’s basketball team (8-16, 6-10 SCIAC) wrapped up
its season Saturday, Feb. 22, falling 71-58 to Occidental College (13-12, 7-9 SCIAC) at home in a game that
encapsulated the Sagehens’ season in many ways, as flashes of a great team alternated
with stretches of poor execution and inconsistency. Jenn Okonkwo PO ’16 led all the players with 23 points and 12 rebounds, and Basha Brulee-Wills PZ ’17 added 17
points of her own, but Occidental’s balanced attack proved to be too much.
Both teams got off to efficient starts, trading
buckets throughout the opening minutes. Okonkwo got the Sagehens started, scoring 10 points in the opening 10 minutes on 4-5 shooting,
but the Sagehens’ offense faded as halftime approached and the Tigers went on a 21-8 run in the final 10 minutes to build what seemed like
a solid 42-23 lead.
The team that stumbled its way through the first
half was nowhere to found in the second half’s opening minutes, as the Sagehens
showed how dangerous they can be when they find a rhythm. Point guard Alaina
Woo PO ’17 quickly changed the pace with a three on the Sagehens’ first
possession, and Brulee-Wills followed suit with a three of her own, seconds before
essentially taking over the game. The following possession led to another three by Brulee-Wills and, on the other end, the first-year forward stole the ball
and hit yet another three, closing Occidental’s lead to nine and giving
much-needed energy to the Sagehens.
The run came with a sense of urgency that the
Sagehens failed to channel in the first half.
“I think going into the second half
we finally realized [this was] our last game,” Okonkwo said. “We decided to
leave it all on court and end the season knowing we put our all into the last
A jumper from Woo and consecutive buckets from
Okonkwo brought the Sagehens within six with 12:35 remaining, but the fast-paced offense soon faded as Occidental’s defense clamped down and the Sagehens
struggled to finish. Back-to-back threes from Occidental’s Crystal Goodwin and
Ashton Reid opened the lead back up for the Tigers and, for a five-minute span, P-P’s only points came off a jumper from Alice Timken PO ’16. Okonkwo,
Brulee-Wills, and Woo continued to find their way to the hoop to keep the
Sagehens alive, but Occidental’s steady, balanced scoring only opened up a
The Sagehens’ failure to maintain momentum is a
problem that has plagued them all year. Okonkwo said that she believes that the momentum swings
and inconsistency come from the team’s lack of experience. She pointed out that
this year’s team has six first-years, four sophomores, and two juniors—and there is certainly room to grow.
“As a team, we haven’t found our
identity,” Okonkwo said. “We struggled to maintain a consistent, level play
throughout the season, but now we have a year of experience heading into the
Okonkwo, Brulee-Wills, and Woo combined for 51 of
the Sagehens’ 58 points. Depth has been a concern for the Sagehens all year, and
it stood out on Saturday, as nonstarters contributed only two points.
Occidental, on the other hand, had 35 points from players coming off the bench.
The Tigers’ scoring was also more balanced, with six players scoring seven or
Despite the rough patches, there is a great deal of
potential in the young team. The core of underclassmen, lead by Okonwko,
Brulee-Wills, and Woo, can generate points quickly. Forward Amelia Hummel PZ ’16
and guard Kacie Hitomi PZ ’17 will also take on larger roles moving forward. Okonkwo
also pointed out that most of the top teams in the SCIAC will lose key players
next year, but the Sagehens will return with a full squad; she noted that the program
overall is “on the upswing.”
Young teams take time to find a rhythm, and P-P is no
exception. If this squad can figure out how to find and maintain a solid
rhythm, the Sagehens will be a tough team to handle.