Vernon’s Cassandra Brown

Vernon’s Cassandra Brown

Brown shoots Indy lights out

Cassandra Brown showed her stuff in a Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) pro combine Monday in Tampa Bay.

Cassandra Brown showed her stuff in a Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) pro combine Monday in Tampa Bay and boarded a Tuesday afternoon flight to Portland.

The 22-year-old Fulton Maroon grad will take a deep breath today and return to normal life as a student-athlete at the University of Portland.

A late stand-in for the NCAA State Farm College Three-Point Shooting Contest Thursday in Indianapolis, Brown was instead a standout, winning the battle of the sexes live on ESPN (watch the YouTube video here).

“It’s been crazy,” Brown told The Morning Star Tuesday. “I haven’t even looked at social media yet; it’s so overwhelming right now.”

Brown, a 6-foot-2 guard/forward who just completed her senior year with the Pilots, first defeated Dayton’s Andrea Hoover in the women’s three-point final at Butler University’s Hinkle Fieldhouse.

She then faced Gonzaga Bulldogs’ Kevin Pangos, a Canadian, who had won the men’s competition, in a battle of champions. Pangos went first and scored 20 points, but Brown rang up 21 points to win. Brown drained nine threes in a row in one stretch.

“I was so nervous at first, I was shaking,” said Brown, a Gonzaga fan. “I was so grateful to get a second rack (of balls) and by the end, I wanted to win and I was focussed. There was a post-party with an open bar after so it was a lot of fun.”

Brown replaced a Tennessee Volunteers player who failed to confirm attendance with the college showcase officials.

“I found out Tuesday in class. They said they had a flight for five in the morning Wednesday so I got no sleep that day. It feels like I haven’t slept in five days.”

Brown, who took a medical red-shirt in the 2012-13 season to have surgery to repair a depressed sternum, was the Pilots’ leading scorer as a junior and senior. She was seventh in the NCAA in long-distance shots with a 44.4 percentage this season.

The Pilots won just four times this season, but she averaged 17.8 points and 6.4 rebounds and was a second-team all-West Coast Conference selection. Brown shot 44.4 percent from three-point range and finished her career with 180 three-pointers, ranking No. 3 in school history.

CB, as she is affectionately known by her friends and teammates, drew tweets from all over after winning the trey extravaganza before 7,100 fans.

HustleBelt tweeted: “Note to self: don’t play Horse against Cassandra Brown when there are witnesses. What a clinic.”

Paul Pabst of The Dan Patrick Show commended Brown:  “Dude…Cassandra Brown. Deadly.”

Brown went home with some sweet swag.

PlayStation was the sponsor so we got PlayStation PS4s and some gear. They gave me a humungous trophy which they are going to send home to Vernon.”

In a post-win interview with ESPN, Brown said: “Honestly, I am speechless, I am so happy to be here. I am from a small school (4,100 students) on the west coast and it’s such a privilege to shoot against some of the best shooters in the nation.”

Asked if she had ribbed Pangos, who hails from Holland Landing, Ont., she smiled and said: “No, no, not at all. He’s Canadian so you know, I have to be nice.”

A communication major with a minor in biology, Brown is talking with pro agents and hopes to nail down a European contract later this month. Her wish list includes Greece, Italy and Australia.

She said the WNBA combine and free agent camp was pretty much a money grab.

“It was kind of a waste of time. They had about  100 girls crammed into a gym for 10 hours. You played three minutes, then sat for an hour and played another three minutes.”

Brown finished her high school career by being named MVP of the B.C. senior AA girls A championships in 2010, where her Maroons lost to Vancouver’s York House Tigers in the tournament final. She was coached by Jim Inglis throughout high school.

Her parents – Robb and Bonnie – drove to Bellingham to watch the three-point derby live on ESPN.

“It was a surreal moment and a time we will never forget for the rest of our lives,” said Robb, a local realtor. “We went to Buffalo Wild Wings (Bar & Grill) because we’d been to one in Portland. I was videoing the event and I was screaming like crazy. When she was making all those shots, I was going, ‘Yes, Yes.’ People were gathering around me and then someone mentioned it was our daughter we were watching.”

Cassandra reached the 1,000-point plateau as the Portland Pilots ambushed the Portland State Vikings 91-63 just before Christmas.

She finished with 26 points versus the Vikings and became the 23rd player in program history to hit 1,000.

A year ago, Brown had surgery to remove a foot-long titanium bar out of her chest. The surgery allowed her to breathe easier and run with no discomfort.


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