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Former Reed standout earns Big West All-Conference honor
by Damian Tromerhauser
Mar 13, 2013 | 4082 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Erica McKenzie has helped lead Pacific to its first ever Big West regular season title and hopes to send the Tigers dancing into March Madness with a Big West tournament crown.
Erica McKenzie has helped lead Pacific to its first ever Big West regular season title and hopes to send the Tigers dancing into March Madness with a Big West tournament crown.
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Moments after the University of Pacific women’s basketball team had beaten UC Davis 59-54 last Saturday, clinching the first ever Big West regular season title in program history, former Reed High standout Erica McKenzie and the Tigers celebrated the achievement of their long-standing goal.

Pacific then hopped on a bus to make the hour-long trek home. The celebrating was not over though.

Right when the Tigers stepped off the bus, coaches led the team to their home court at the Spanos Center. There, in front of a gym absent of fans, cheerleaders or a band, McKenzie and her teammates climbed one-by-one up a ladder to cut down the nets. Although it was not the way many would picture it, the senior said she wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“It’s not your ideal moment, but we still got to cut down our own nets,” McKenzie said. “It’s a really great feeling. Not a lot of people have the opportunity to be able to win the conference so I’m just really thankful for that and exited to see what else we can accomplish.”

McKenzie, a 2009 Reed graduate, played a large role in helping Pacific to its most successful season in Tiger history. Aside from earning its first ever Big West regular season crown — Pacific finished a 24-6 season with a 14-4 mark in conference play — the Tigers also set school records for winning percentage (.800), total wins and conference wins, as well as home and road wins.

In helping guide Pacific to its best season, McKenzie was named to the Big West first team along with teammate Kendall Rodriguez, marking just the second time the Tigers have had a pair of players named to the top team.

After earning second-team honors her junior season, McKenzie made the jump to the first team by finishing the regular season as the No. 1 three-point shooter in the Big West by draining a program-record 78 in 2012-13. Her 78 three-pointers broke her own program record set as a junior and moved her into second place in both Pacific and Big West history with 255 made for her career.

During the season, McKenzie also tied the Tigers' single-game mark this season by hitting 8-of-10 against Cal State Northridge on Feb. 14, an .800 percentage, which also tied her own program record. Overall, McKenzie finished the regular season averaging 11.2 points per game while also dishing out a team-best three assists per game. She also grabbed a team-best 2.4 steals per contest, a mark ranking her third in the conference.

“It’s very humbling to me,” McKenzie said of the first-team acknowledgment. “Not a lot of people get that opportunity to get recognized and get such a great award. We have so many great players in our conference so I feel honored to get that. I’m surrounded by great teammates and a great coaching staff. So at the end of the day, all the recognition goes to them because without them I wouldn’t have even made it as far as I have.”

Despite all of the postseason accolades, McKenzie’s focus remains on the Big West tournament as the Tigers sit and wait to find out their opponent in the semifinals Friday night. With a chance to take Pacific’s first tournament title and punch a ticket to the 'Big Dance,' McKenzie is eager to get back on the hardwood.

“It would be incredible,” McKenzie said of winning the Big West tournament. “We’re not done yet. We’re still hungry and we want more. Everyone is focused. It’s just really exciting to have this chance. We like where we’re at heading into the tournament and to be able to win these next two games and go to 'The Dance' would just be an amazing way to end your senior year.

“All that I’ve worked for has led up to this. Pacific has never made it to the NCAA tournament so to be able to do something like that for our program and make history would be amazing. It is what I dreamt about growing up. You just picture yourself making it to the dance and being a part of March Madness, so it would just be the perfect ending.”
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