Author: Alex Nieves
The Occidental women’s basketball team played its first game of the 2012-2013 season on Nov. 17 against Linfield College.
The team was able to pull out a gritty 52-46 victory despite only shooting 29 percent from the field. Both squads played very evenly, matching each other in almost every statistical category, but the Tigers made the most of their second chance opportunities, outscoring Linfield 14-5 in this category. Many of these second chance points came off of center Bitsy Messick’s (junior) 18 rebounds. Messick also added 12 points and eight blocks in a dominate performance.
After the game, it seemed that Messick was almost unaware of how well she had played.
“When you’re out there playing you don’t really think about the stats,” said Messick. “It’s just a matter of win or lose.”
D3hoops.com Preseason All-American guard Makenzie Brandon (senior) had a huge game in the Tiger’s second game against Whitworth College, recording 32 points and 14 rebounds. Messick pulled down 17 rebounds, but the team could not overcome a 12-point deficit in the second half.
Occidental was able to get within three points of Whitworth three times in the second half, but despite these big performances from their star players, the Tigers were not able to complete the comeback, falling 67-62.
The difference in the game was the teams lack of bench scoring. Whitworth’s bench outscored the Tigers 30-4, and the black and orange was unable to convert from behind the three point line, failing to hit a single shot from beyond the arch.
Poor shooting plagued the Tigers in the third game of the season against Oberlin as well. As a team, the Tigers only shot 25 percent from the field and were not able to hold onto a 10-point lead in the second half.
Guard Liz Little (senior) had matched her career high of 17 points while knocking down five of 13 three pointers. Messick also continued her streak of dominance on the boards, grabbing nine rebounds, but the Tigers were not able to overcome poor play overall, as the team was out rebounded 49-32.
After the game, head coach Anahit Aladzhanyan said that this was the kind of experience that the squad needed to learn from.
“We just have to put this one behind us quickly,” said Aladzhanyan. “Chalk it up as a learning experience and get ready for CMS on Thursday.”
Although the Tigers are not off to the start they were hoping for, the team is still primed for a very successful season.
The Tigers are returning all of their starters, other than Katelyn Rowe (senior) who has yet to return from studying abroad, from the 2011-2012 team that went 22-4 and won their fifth consecutive SCAIC championship.
But the most apparent change that the team will have to deal with is the departure of former head coach Heidi VanDerveer, who lead the Tigers to four SCIAC championships in her four years as head coach. While VanDerveer’s exit is a big loss for the team, the Athletics Department has hired a coach with in-depth experience of the success of the team.
Aladzhanyan, who is affectionately known as “Heat” around campus, is entering her first season as the head coach of a collegiate program. Although she has no experience in the role of the head coach, she has been an integral part of the Occidental basketball programs since 2005.
As a former player, Aladzhanyan was a captain her senior season in 2007. She has since been an assistant coach for both the women’s and men’s teams. She also played the important role of recruiting some of the star players on this years team, like Brandon.
If Aladzhanyan can coach the Tigers to the same level of play as in years past, and with all of the players gaining an extra year of experience to add on to their games, there is no reason why the team should not be the front runner for their sixth straight SCIAC championship.
The Tiger’s host Claremont-Mudd-Scripps tomorrow at 7:30 in Rush Gymnasium.
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