Dara Tokeshi (first year) had an impactful week for Occidental College’s women’s basketball team. Tokeshi came off the bench, scoring 19 points while shooting 50 percent from the field and making all seven free throws against Chapman University.
Four days later, Tokeshi was the college’s leading scorer in a 1-point nail-biting win against Cal Lutheran. Again, Tokeshi proved that coming off the bench would not hinder her impact on the court, scoring 17 points and coming up big late in the game.
Tokeshi shined in the fourth quarter in the win away against Cal Lutheran, hitting two 3-pointers, a transition jump shot and making a free throw to put the Tigers ahead by 1 point with less than a minute left in the game.
Assistant coach Isaiah Flowers said that the team is fun because he can trust that somebody will step up when they need something. According to Flowers, Tokeshi took on this very role.
“Going into this past week, Tokeshi felt like it was her time to step up, and she did exactly that,” Flowers said. “Watching Dara has been fun and amazing. Nobody comes in as a freshman expecting to play 30 minutes per game, but she has thrived in that role.”
Tokeshi said she credits her teammates for her success and for being a source of motivation.
“We just work hard for each other. Because we are so close, it’s so easy to fight for each other,” Tokeshi said. “Knowing that it’s the last couple of games for my seniors, I feel like it’s very important to put it all out there.”
While her back-to-back performances earned her Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) women’s basketball offensive player of the week, Tokeshi said her focus is on the rest of the season and making the playoffs. Tokeshi said she wants to expand her repertoire as well by contributing even when she’s not scoring.
Tokeshi said she has learned a lot about basketball from her first season with Occidental, but she has also learned a lot about managing success and failure.
“You are not always going to be the best that you can be,” Tokeshi said. “It’s going to come in waves. Not only is basketball a game of runs, but so is life, and that’s okay and normal.”
Andrew Waldman (sophomore) led Occidental College’s men’s basketball team to a victory at home against Cal Lutheran University. Waldman posted 34 points, five assists and 10 rebounds while shooting 63 percent from the field and draining eight out of nine free throws.
Waldman said he was glad to be able to contribute massively but was more concerned about making the playoffs rather than putting up an impressive stat line.
“I know I can make big plays and be a big-time scorer for us,” Waldman said. “But the most important thing is always winning. Anything I can do to win is what I’ll try to do.”
Waldman said he was nursing a knee injury during his impressive outing, but that it did not faze him.
“Injuries seem to be a reoccurring theme with me, but in the moment, I wasn’t really thinking about it, especially when the last 10 minutes hit,” Waldman said. “At certain moments, my brain kind of turns off, and I don’t think about that stuff, even if my body is dragging my leg down the court.”
Waldman said he holds himself to high standards on and off the court, having set two of his season-long goals as making Second Team All-SCIAC and the All-Academic Team. According to Waldman, those goals have stayed the same.
Waldman said their team goal is to slide into the fourth seed and make the playoffs. He praised his teammates for their constant support and trust.
“My teammates are always checking in on me before games, trying to get me ready to go and come out aggressive and assertive,” said Waldman. “I get a lot of love from my teammates. I love my teammates. They give me a lot of confidence and trust me to make the right plays.”
Ryan Hakl, Waldman’s teammate and roommate said one of the reasons why he is his roommate is because Waldman is an all-around great guy — on and off the court.
“He’s very intelligent, thoughtful and a very caring person, but as a teammate, he’s a good leader,” Hakl said. “He leads by example. He doesn’t speak often, so when he speaks, you listen.”
According to Hakl, Waldman’s confidence is infectious.
“He’s so confident that it carries over to our whole team; everybody can feel it,” Hakl said.
Entering the final games of the season, Waldman said he and his teammates have their eyes set on winning the season’s last games and remaining in playoff contention.
Contact Nate Buckley at firstname.lastname@example.org.