Hens Fall Short in Two Close Contests on the Court

As the temperatures dipped into the 50s last weekend and Claremont descended into “winter,” it became apparent that
a new season of sports was here at last. And with this new season came the debut of the 2014-2015 Pomona-Pitzer women’s basketball team, who played in its first game against Pacific Lutheran University Saturday, Nov. 15. Although the women led
for the majority of the game, the Lutes ultimately pulled ahead to hand
the Hens their first loss of the season.

While the Hens (0-2) have only just begun their games, they have been on the court since
Oct. 15 to prepare for their long winter season. As always, the first day of practice was an
exciting day for the team as they looked ahead to their upcoming games. 

“We were
very excited,” Jenn Okonkwo PO ‘16 said. “We have the exact same team as last year, so that’s a positive
because if anything we can build on what we did last year. Generally, we had
very positive feelings going into the season.”

Last year,
the Hens finished with a record of 8-16, chalking up six of those wins in
conference play. Two of the key players returning are forwards Okonkwo and Basha Brulee-Wills PZ ’17, both of whom were named to the All-SCIAC Second Team
last season. The team has trained hard
in the offseason with the hopes of improving their record, making for a productive first four weeks of practice. 

“People
came back in shape, allowing us to kick start things much quicker,” Okonkwo said. “While we
struggled a bit at first with the offense, things are running much more
smoothly now. We also are building lots of chemistry, helping
us to know how each of our teammates play.”

This year, adapting to a new team chemistry has been an especially important process. The Hens welcome first years Hannah
Green PO ’18 from Washington, D.C., Cassandra Palmer PO ’18 from Glenview, Ill., and Anya
Quig PZ ’18 from Vashon, Wash., to their roster. With the addition of these young players, combined with the returning students’ previous time playing together, the team is confident that they will build upon the experience they might have lacked last season. 

“As a team,
we just need to win the closer games,” Okonkwo said. “Now that it’s our third year, I think
we’ll be able to win the closer games as we previously lacked the experience. It
was very clear that we were young.”

Unfortunately,
the Hens were not able to close their Nov. 15 game against the Lutes and ended up losing 58-56.

Nonetheless,
the game started well as the Hens led 18-7 with 9:07 left in the first half due in large part to inside success between Okonkwo and Amelia Hummel PZ ’16. For Okonkwo, these first ten
minutes were promising for a solid season ahead and for coming back strong in difficult games. 

“[Pacific Lutheran] came out right away with a
lot of intensity, but we didn’t let that get us down,” Okonkwo said. “Even though our team is
very young, we didn’t get discouraged, and we were able to bounce back and run
our offense and score.”

However, the lead diminished to just one point as P-P went into halftime up 29-28.

The second
half was characterized by multiple lead changes as both teams vied for the upper
hand. Ultimately, the Lutes made a free throw with 3:27 left on the clock,
sealing the lead and the win for Pacific Lutheran.

“We played
okay. I don’t think we played exceptionally well or ridiculously poorly either,”
Okonkwo said. “But there are definitely things we need to work on; small things
like boxing out and making sure there is help on defense.”

Leading the
flock in scoring this game was Brulee-Wills, who scored 17 points. Okonkwo was
next with 14 points, 10 of which came at the free-throw line. Hummel was able
to secure a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds.

Later in the week, P-P fell to La Sierra University on the night of Thursday, Nov. 20, by a score of 68-51. After pulling ahead 37-30 in the beginning of the second half, the Sagehens allowed two big Golden Eagle runs as La Sierra was able to pull away. Hummel led the Hens in scoring with 12 points, and Alaina Woo PO ’17 added 11 points of her own. Brulee-Wills racked up a team-leading 10 rebounds on the night.

You can
catch the P-P women’s basketball team again this Tuesday, Nov. 25, as they play Linfield
College from McMinnville, Ore., in the Rains Center at 6 p.m.

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