Umpqua Community College’s women’s basketball team will be preparing for Big Bend this week.

UCC (27-4) will face the Vikings in a Final Four game of the Northwest Athletic Conference tournament at Everett Community College at 1 p.m. Saturday.

The Riverhawks defeated Grays Harbor, 86-68, in Sunday’s Elite Eight game to advance to the championship weekend.

“This is the fifth time in six years that we’ve made the Final Four,” UCC coach Dave Stricklin said. “To bring so many new faces together and to be back where we were last year, it’s been extremely rewarding.”

Taylor Stricklin scored 29 points, including 7 of 15 from behind the 3-point line. Darian Mitchell contributed 26 points and 15 rebounds.

Cielo Gonzalez came off the bench to score 20 points. She scored 13 of her points in the third quarter to hold off a Choker comeback by the Chokers (16-12).

“I knew that it was a close game and I knew they were closing in on Darian (Mitchell) and Taylor (Stricklin), so I took it on myself to become another threat and go to the basket,” Gonzalez said in a postgame interview.

Grace Campbell had 14 rebounds and six assists in the game.

“One of our goals for most games is rebounding, so we practice a lot on rebounds we have a lot of drills with rebound, rebound, rebound,” Mitchell said. “Everything we do is about rebounds, so having three or so people a game that can get 10-plus is really good for us. If we can just keep pushing ourselves to get those rebounds, we can do anything.”

UCC led 45-35 at halftime, as Taylor Stricklin burned the Chokers’ zone with six 3-pointers. Grays Harbor outscored Umpqua 22-20 in the third quarter, but the Riverhawks came back in the final quarter with 21 points compared to 11 from the Chokers.

“They started off in a zone and Taylor hit those 3s and forced them out of it,” Dave Stricklin said. “Then they went to man-to-man and we jammed the ball inside to Darian (Mitchell). And Cielo (Gonzalez) gave us a spark in the third quarter.”

Grays Harbor was led by Charleea Armstrong and Sandin Kidder with 25 points apiece.

The winner of the Umpqua-Big Bend game will face the winner of the Lane-Wenatchee Valley game in the championship game at 2 p.m. Sunday. Those were the top four ranked teams in the final NWAC coaches’ poll.

GRAYS HARBOR (68) — Charleea Armstrong 8-15 2-2 25, Sandin Kidder 10-27 2-6 25, Teel 2-12 3-4 8, Hernandez 2-7 0-0 4, Byrd 1-3 0-0 2, Dyer 1-1 0-0 2, Mendoza 0-1 0-0 0, Webster 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 25-68 7-12 68.

UMPQUA (86) — Taylor Stricklin 11-22 0-1 29, Mitchell 12-23 2-4 26, Gonzalez 6-9 4-8 20, Riggle 0-4 1-2 1, Reinen 0-2 0-0 0, Woodard 2-3 0-1 4, Rincon 0-1 0-0 0, Campbell 3-6 0-3 6. Totals 34-70 7-19 86.

Grays Harbor 18 17 22 11 — 68

Umpqua 22 23 20 21 — 86

3-Point Goals — G.H. 11-28 (Teel 1-5, Armstrong 7-15, Hernandez 0-1, Kidder 3-10), UCC 11-25 (Stricklin 7-15, Reinen 0-1, Mitchell 0-2, Gonzalez 4-7). Rebounds — G.H. 37 (Armstrong 7, Byrd 7), UCC 53 (Mitchell 15). Assists — G.H. 17 (Teel, Kidder 5), UCC 23 (Campbell 6). Steals — G.H. 7 (Mendoza 2), UCC 12 (Gonzalez 5). Blocks — GH 5 (Byrd 2), UCC 0. Turnovers — GH 18, UCC 16. Total Fouls — G.H. 17, UCC 11. A — 118.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at sgodfrey@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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Sports Reporter

Sanne Godfrey is the education reporter for The News-Review.

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