Tigers Lose in NCAA Second Round
A courageous effort fell just short Saturday night as Occidental lost 89-81 to 14th-ranked Puget Sound in an NCAA Division III second round playoff game in Tacoma, Wash.
Occidental finished the season with an overall record of 20-6, its second 20-win campaign in the last four years. Puget Sound (22-4) will face Augustana (IL) in the Division III Sectionals March 10 at a site to be determined.
Puget Sound entered Saturday’s game a heavy favorite and was certainly the more rested team, given the Tigers’ quick turnaround following Thursday night’s first-round victory over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
The Loggers jumped out to an early 8-0 lead but Occidental pulled to within one three times in the first half and trailed 42-40 at halftime. The Tigers led by six seven minutes into the second half and kept pace until Puget Sound launched an 8-0 run, taking an 80-73 lead with less than three minutes remaining.
The Loggers’ pressure defense hounded the Tigers throughout the game, forcing 25 Oxy turnovers. The Tigers won the rebounding battle 39-28 but the Loggers grabbed 14 offensive boards, scoring 15 second-chance points in the second half.
Occidental shot a respectable 59% in both periods but went almost six minutes without a basket late in the second.
Zach Phillips turned in a heroic effort in his final collegiate game, scoring 23 points with 10 rebounds on 10-of-12 shooting from the floor. Senior Dylan Marvin collected 13 points and dished seven assists.
The Tigers had no answer for six-foot-six senior forward Zack McVey, who scored 26 points and pulled down three key offensive rebounds for the Loggers.
Saturday’s loss concludes another successful season for Occidental men’s basketball, which enjoyed a six-week stint in the nations’ top 25, ranking as high as 12th before a loss to La Verne Feb. 4. The Tigers will return seven players with significant experience in 2006-07