Cal Lutheran Upsets Occidental, Moves on to SCIAC Postseason Tournament Final at Redlands
LOS ANGELES – Occidental College coach Heidi VanDerveer knew it before the game.
“If you’re going to beat Cal Lutheran University, you have to beat them on the boards,” she said prior to Thursday’s SCIAC semi final matchup with the Regals.
Unfortunately for VanDerveer and the Tigers, Cal Lutheran outrebounded Oxy 46-32, with 16 of Cal Lu’s boards at the offensive end.
Despite the problems on the glass though, Makenzie Brandon (Seattle) led a second-half push that put the Tigers up by as many as five points, 49-44, with 2 minutes, 30 seconds to play, and the game was tied at 49 until the last possession.
Then Erica Whitley (Oxnard) drove to her right from the top of the key and scored a running layup off of the glass with 1.7 seconds left, keeping the Regals season alive.
No. 4 Cal Lutheran (17-9, 9-5 SCIAC) advances to play at No. 2 Redlands in the SCIAC tournament championship on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Oxy, the sixth-ranked team in the West Region, waits with its fingers crossed for an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III postseason tournament.
Cal Lu finished the first half on an 7-0 run, then Chelsey Hastigan (Saugus) hit a pair of three-pointers, extending a 34-19 lead with 18:25 to play.
Oxy went on a run of its own, 20-5, eventually tying the game at 39 when Brandon sunk a pair of free throws with 5:37 left.
Brandon, who broke the 1,000 career point mark late in the second half, finished with a game-high 23 points and 10 rebounds. As a junior, the 5-foot-10 forward has scored 1,003 in her career.
Brandon hit two more free throws, Crystal Goodwin (Inglewood) made one from the line and hit a three-pointer, then Liz Little (Littleton, Colo.) converted a three-point play, giving Oxy a 49-44 lead, its biggest of the evening.
But the Tigers got stuck on 49.
Whitley came off of a ball screen and knocked down a three with 2:15 on the clock, then made two free throws to tie it at 49 with 58 seconds left before scoring the game-winner on the next Cal Lutheran possession.
Whitley had 21 and grabbed 10 rebounds, her second double-double in consecutive games — the 5-foot-9 junior had 19 points and 10 rebounds in a 60-59 loss to Redlands on Feb. 18.
Hastigan was 2 for 7 from three, finishing with 11 points for the Regals.
Katelyn Rowe (Carlsbad), Oxy’s leading rebounder and second leading scorer, was forced to the bench for most of the final six minutes after picking up her fourth foul. Rowe finished with six points, six rebounds and four blocks.
It was the third meeting between the schools this season and the second time Cal Lu defeated Oxy – the Regals beat the Tigers 54-50 on Jan. 21 in Thousand Oaks. Oxy won the second matchup in Los Angeles 62-47 on Feb. 16.