WINCHESTER — The Umpqua Community College men’s basketball team took over sole possession of first place in the Northwest Athletic Conference South Region race with one of its best defensive performances of the season on Wednesday night.

The Riverhawks hosted No. 2 Lane and its top-scoring offense and held the Titans to a season-low point total in a 68-64 victory at the UCC gym.

Umpqua’s win, combined with Chemeketa’s 73-66 loss to Clark, puts the No. 6 Riverhawks alone in first in the South Region standings with eight games left to play.

“I was super proud of them on the defensive end,” said Umpqua coach Daniel Leeworthy. “We bought into the scouting report and really played to their personnel and their tendencies really well.”

The proof was in the numbers. Umpqua (14-7, 7-1 South) held Lane to its fewest made field goals (25), worst shooting percentage (35.7) and fewest made 3-pointers (four). The Titans entered the contest averaging a NWAC best 103.9 points per game.

The Riverhawks pulled ahead 7-0 to start the game and led by their widest margin at 51-38 with about 16 minutes left in the second half.

Things turned sour as UCC went cold for a stretch of about four minutes in the second half and Lane (17-3, 6-2) went on a 13-2 run to get back into the game. The Riverhawks managed to hang on to a slim lead for a little while longer, but the Titans took their first lead of the game on a 3-pointer by Tarik Cool with 2:25 left.

Cool hit another basket to give LCC a 64-61 lead with 98 seconds remaining.

With their heels on the ledge, the Riverhawks turned to their defense in the closing minute. Connor Shaw started the comeback with a steal that resulted in the game-tying 3-pointer from Eric Klekas.

Tied at 64, Shaw poked away another steal with under a minute to go and made a driving layin that put UCC ahead for good.

“That was a toughness game,” Shaw said after celebrating with teammates in the locker room. When thinking back to the final moments of the game he said, “That can hurt a team. Lead the whole entire game and then they (the opponent) takes the lead. But I thought we battled back, got some stops and made some plays.”

Shaw finished with 17 points to lead the Riverhawks. Klekas added 14 points and John Morrill-Keeler battled numerous blows to the nose causing bleeding, but still finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double.

Cool finished with a game-high 18 points to lead the Titans. The redshirt sophomore came into the game averaging 25.1 points per game, third best in the NWAC.

“Being in first right now is nice because it’s the midway point through (the league schedule),” Leeworthy said. “We’ve got to hit the road and play against some tough teams. You know, we want the South Region championship, but we’re going to take it one game at a time.”

Up next for UCC is a road test at Linn-Benton next Wednesday.

LANE (64) — Tarik Cool 8-16 0-0 18, Brown 1-6 0-0 2, Wilson 4-13 7-7 15, Hounshell 2-9 0-0 5, Mathis 7-12 1-3 15, Erickson 0-1 1-2 1, Bonds 2-8 1-2 6, Graves 1-5 0-0 2, Sorber 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-70 10-14 64.

UMPQUA (68) — Connor Shaw 7-17 2-2 17, Klekas 5-16 2-2 14, Morrill-Keeler 5-9 0-0 10, Mortensen 4-6 1-2 9, Martin 3-6 0-0 8, Benzel 4-5 0-0 8, Sutton 1-3 0-0 2, Gilbert 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 29-66 5-6 68.

Halftime — UCC 45-36. 3-point Goals — Lane 4-26 (Cool 2-6, Hounshell 1-5, Bonds 1-4, Brown 0-3, Wilson 0-3, Erickson 0-1, Graves 0-4), UCC 5-21 (Klekas 2-9, Martin 2-5, Shaw 1-3, Mortensen 0-1, Gilbert 0-2, Benzel 0-1). Total Fouls — Lane 10. Umpqua 9. Rebounds — Lane 39 (Mathis 15), UCC 37 (Morrill-Keeler 10). Assists — Lane 8 (Cool 3), UCC 18 (Shaw 6). Turnovers — Lane 7, UCC 10.

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