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Point Taken
by Damian Tromerhauser
Jan 28, 2013 | 3143 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Erica McKenzie
Erica McKenzie
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Before the University of the Pacific’s women’s basketball team’s game against Cal State Northridge a week ago, senior guard Erica McKenzie was preparing for the contest as though it was just another game. The former Reed Raider standout had no idea she was on the verge of joining a very select group of Tigers in the Pacific record books.

Eight points and a 60-51 victory later though, McKenzie had eclipsed the 1,000 career point mark with the Tigers, becoming just the 18th player in program history to join the 1,000 point club.

“I actually was unaware of it,” McKenzie said of reaching the milestone. “Someone mentioned it to me at shoot around that morning and I had no idea. When my teammate Kendall Rodriguez got it, I knew I had about 100 points or so to go, but I wasn’t keeping track. Once the game had started I had forgotten about it. So it came as a complete surprise. So it was cool when they announced it and everyone stood up and clapped. It is such a great honor especially because only 18 or so people have reached that at Pacific. I feel blessed and I’m thankful that I’ve been on such a great team that feeds me the ball and just the overall success that we’ve had so far this season.”

Although McKenzie realizes the significance of the landmark, she said her personal numbers don’t mean as much as the number in Pacific’s win column. Fortunately for both McKenzie and the Tigers, all of those numbers have coincided over her four years at Pacific.

McKenzie has started 110 straight games for the Tigers, setting a new program record. In that time, she has left her imprint on both the record books and the overall success of Pacific.

Aside from being 17th on Pacific’s all-time scoring list (1,029), McKenzie currently ranks fourth in all-time three-pointers made (220), fourth on the all-time steals list (168) and seventh in all-time assists (338). Last season during her junior year, she set Pacific’s single-season 3-pointers made record at 75.

While McKenzie has been adding her name to the Tigers’ all-time lists, Pacific has steadily improved alongside her numbers.

After the Tigers struggled her first two years with the program, finishing her freshman year at 6-23 and her sophomore year with a 9-22 mark, the direction of the program drastically changed. Last season the Tigers finished with an 18-14 campaign, reaching the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. And now, in her final season with the Tigers, McKenzie has helped Pacific to a 16-3 start, along with a 6-1 conference mark good enough to lead the Big West. With 11 regular season games left on the schedule as well as the Big West tournament, the Tigers are five wins away from a new program record.

“It has been awesome,” McKenzie said of the program’s turnaround. “To see where we are now compared to the first couple of years when it was rough, is awesome. I’m very thankful I’ve been a part of such a great program. My freshman and sophomore year here we had a couple rough seasons, so just for me to really be able to contribute to this program and turn it around means a lot to me. Just to see all the hard work pay off and everything you put into it, that’s how you want to be able to end your senior year.

“I know my team isn’t going to let up at all. We’re going to continue to work hard. It’s been an amazing season so far and I can’t wait to see how we end up. Pacific is going to go into the West Coast Conference next year, so there have just been so many great things that have happened for this program. I’m just thankful to be a part of that and help just really change the program.”

Once the season is over, McKenzie is set to graduate in May. While she will walk away from Pacific with a degree in sports management, she said she is hoping to pursue her dream of playing professional basketball either overseas or in the WNBA.

For now though, McKenzie’s focus is still on the remainder of the season ahead for the Tigers.

“I just want to continue having fun. This is my senior year, so this is it for me,” she said. “I just really want to make the most of this season and really have a great time out there. Obviously as a player you want to win, you want to win them all, but however things go I want to leave this season just with a smile on my face. So hopefully at the end we’ll be cutting down the nets. That would mean the most to me.”
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