No. 1 versus No. 2.

Two women’s basketball teams with identical records — the top-ranked Umpqua Riverhawks and the No. 2 Walla Walla Warriors — will play tonight for the Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament championship at Everett Community College.

Both teams posted lopsided victories Saturday night in the Final Four semifinals.

Umpqua (31-1) outscored No. 7 Bellevue 60-28 in the second half and finished with a 103-70 win, getting a tournament-record 47-point performance from Dajanay Powell.

Walla Walla (31-1) whipped Big Bend, 92-64, to advance to the title game for the second year in a row. The Warriors, who lost to Spokane last year, were led by Cierra Jo McKeown with 45 points.

“I’m really happy for the girls,” said UCC coach Dave Stricklin, whose team last played in the championship contest in 2014. “It’s a giant weight off our shoulders. Losing (to Spokane in the semifinals last year) has bothered our players all year. We were mentally focused and ready to play tonight.”

Umpqua and Walla Walla haven’t met this season. The Riverhawks went unbeaten in the Southern Region, while the Warriors were 16-0 in the East.

Tipoff is scheduled for 5:15 p.m.

“They’re very good,” Stricklin said of the Warriors.

Powell, a 6-foot-3 redshirt sophomore center, delivered another 40-point scoring game. She poured in 46 points on 21 of 23 shooting in a 93-66 rout of Columbia Basin in the Elite Eight.

Powell hit her first seven shots of the game and scored 14 of UCC’s first 15 points Saturday. She finished 20-for-27 from the field and 7-for-11 from the free throw line in a sterling 35 minutes. She also grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds and blocked three shots.

“It was pretty cool,” Powell said. “I was just listening to my teammates, they kept encouraging me and I love them for that. It’s my scoring, but it was their passing that got me all those points.”

“We’ve stressed all year to feed the hot hand, and Daisy has been the hot hand,” Dave Stricklin said. “We didn’t run anything special today ... we ran the same exact offenses we’ve used all year. The girls recognized what was open and they were looking for Daisy. It was a team effort.”

Powell has 119 points and 44 rebounds in three tournament games.

“We’re so excited. We’re ready to play tomorrow,” said Powell. “We have to finish it out strong.”

Sophomore forward Jordan Stotler, a Roseburg High graduate, had another productive all-around game for the Riverhawks with 24 points, nine rebounds, eight blocked shots and seven assists.

Sophomore forward Bria Thames posted a double-double with 15 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. Freshman guard Taylor Stricklin, a former Sutherlin standout, chipped in nine points, seven rebounds and five assists in the victory.

Umpqua shot 56.2 percent (41-for-73) from the field and outrebounded the Bulldogs 55-31. The Riverhawks only committed five turnovers.

Dave Stricklin felt the key to the second half was defense. After leading 43-42 at the break, UCC hiked its lead to 71-60 in the third quarter and buried Bellevue 32-10 over the final 10 minutes.

“We made a change on defense,” said Stricklin. “Craig (Jackson) suggested we try a 1-2-2 (zone), because we were having trouble guarding the high post in the first half. They didn’t get easy looks in the second half and we were able to get some stops.”

Brenda Akoto led the Bulldogs (22-9) with 25 points and 12 rebounds, but only had eight points in the second half. Bellevue shot 33.8 percent (25-for-74) from the field in the game.

“We definitely picked it up (defensively) in the second half,” Powell said. “We started communicating and gave more effort.”

Umpqua hit the century mark with 1:00 left in the contest when reserve Lily Eckert completed a conventional three-point play — a basket and free throw.

All that’s left for the Riverhawks is winning their first NWAC crown since 2000.

They know it won’t be easy. Walla Walla is also a sophomore-laden squad.

In the men’s semifinals Saturday, No. 8 Peninsula defeated No. 7 Linn-Benton 89-75 and No. 5 North Idaho eliminated No. 2 Portland 79-73.

UMPQUA (103) — Dajanay Powell 20-27 7-11 47, Stotler 11-22 0-0 24, Stricklin 2-7 4-6 9, Thames 5-10 5-7 15, Grenfell 0-2 0-0 0, Parnell 0-0 0-0 0, Frieze 0-1 0-0 0, Eckert 1-1 1-1 3, Taylor 0-0 0-0 0, Anderson 0-1 0-0 0, Jones 2-2 0-0 5. Totals 41-73 17-25 103.

BELLEVUE (70) — Brenda Akoto 7-18 8-10 25, Cole 6-22 0-0 15, Hopkins 4-9 0-0 11, Dixon 4-12 0-0 11, M. Akoto 3-10 1-2 7, Tate 0-1 0-0 0, Schultz 0-0 0-0 0, McCauley 0-0 0-0 0, Lambert 1-2 1-2 4. Totals 25-74 10-14 70.

Umpqua 25 18 28 32 — 103

Bellevue 19 23 18 10 — 70

3-Point Goals — UCC 4-17 (Stotler 2-8, Stricklin 1-4, Thames 0-2, Grenfell 0-1, Frieze 0-1, Jones 1-1), BCC 10-27 (Cole 3-14, Hopkins 3-5, Dixon 3-6, M. Akoto 0-1, Lambert 1-1). Total Fouls — UCC 12, BCC 16. Fouled Out — B. Akoto. Rebounds — UCC 55 (Powell 14), BCC 31 (B. Akoto 12). Assists — UCC 29 (Stotler 7), BCC 15 (Dixon 6). Turnovers — UCC 5, BCC 10.

Sports Editor Tom Eggers can be reached at 541-957-4220 or email teggers@nrtoday.com

React to this story:

1
1
0
0
0

Sports Editor

Tom Eggers is the sports editor for The News-Review. He can be reached at teggers@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4220.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.