WINCHESTER — After falling into a 13-point hole early in the second half, the Umpqua Riverhawks rallied to take the lead late but were unable to hold on as the Chemeketa Storm escaped the UCC gym with a much-needed 94-91 Northwest Athletic Conference South Region men’s basketball victory Saturday afternoon.

“We really needed that one,” said Chemeketa sophomore post Dalton Renne, who had 20 points and eight rebounds in the win. “One more, and that should get us into the (NWAC) playoffs.”

The Riverhawks, already having clinched an NWAC playoff berth, rallied from a 57-43 deficit early in the second half to eventually take a 87-86 lead with 3:19 left in the game.

Freshman post Akoi Yuot was the catalyst of that rally. The Riverhawks’ sixth man came off the bench just 90 seconds into the second half and scored 12 points over the next eight minutes — with 3-pointers from Cody Fredrickson and Brock Gilbert sprinkled in — to pull Umpqua within 68-63 with 10 minutes to go.

Cameron Benzel’s dunk on a dish from Gilbert made it 68-65 Chemeketa, but the Storm remained unrelenting.

Consecutive three-point plays from Yuot and Fredrickson kept UCC within striking distance, as did Isaac Lungren’s four-point play with 7:02 left, which pulled the ’Hawks within 80-77.

Chemeketa extended its lead to 86-79 before Umpqua went on a 10-0 run behind layups from Lungren and Fredrickson and a fast-break dunk by Yuot (which resulted in a technical foul for swinging on the rim), which gave Umpqua an 89-86 lead with 2:54 to play.

The Storm rallied one last time, with Penne’s floater over Benzel at the basket giving Chemeketa a 94-91 lead with 46.6 seconds to play. After Chemeketa’s Jaloni Garner missed a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left, Brock Gilbert took a 3-pointer from the top-right of the key, but it bounced off the front of the rim as time expired.

“They were playing for their playoff lives, and they made big plays,” Umpqua coach Daniel Leeworthy said. “Chemeketa needed to win two of their last three to make the playoffs. They were playing desperate tonight.”

Yuot, who was the proverbial “bell cow” during Umpqua’s second-half rally, finished with a season-high 29 points — shooting 11-for-14 from the floor and 7 of 7 from the free-throw line — and had seven rebounds. However, Yuot left the game with close to two minutes remaining with an apparent ankle injury.

“AK is a very good one-on-one offensive player. He’s long, athletic and runs like a deer,” Leeworthy said. “He’s the fastest guy on the team at 6-foot-7, and he can finish around and through people.”

Lungren tallied 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting and grabbed six boards, Fredrickson scored 18 while shooting 8-for-10, and Benzel had 10 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots.

Gilbert dished out 15 assists to go with nine points and five rebounds.

The Riverhawks (23-4, 11-3 NWAC) fell two games behind Clackamas for first place in the South Region standings. Umpqua visits Southwestern Oregon Wednesday night and will close out the regular season at home Saturday afternoon with the Cougars.

CHEMEKETA (94) — Juvaun Jones 10-14 1-1 23, Garner 8-22 4-6 20, Renne 6-10 5-7 20, Russ 3-7 0-0 6, Carlisle 2-5 0-0 6, Schmerber 7-12 0-1 17, Ames 0-0 0-0 0, Dufort 1-2 0-0 2, Castillo 0-1 0-1 0. Totals 37-73 10-16 94.

UMPQUA (91) — Akoi Yuot 11-14 7-7 29, Gilbert 3-8 0-0 9, Lungren 7-12 3-3 20, Fredrickson 8-10 1-1 18, Benzel 5-11 0-0 10, Mortensen 2-9 0-0 5, Perry 0-0 0-0 0, Quinton 0-1 0-0 0, Camptbell 0-0 0-0 0, Wood 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 36-66 11-11 91.

Halftime — Chemeketa 49-41. 3-Point Goals — Chem. 10-23 (Renne 3-6, Schmerber 3-6, Garner 0-2, Russ 0-1, Carlisle 2-4, Dufort 0-1, Jones 2-3), UCC 8-18 (Gilberg 3-5, Lungren 3-6, Fredrickson 1-2, Mortensen 1-4, Wood 0-1). Total Fouls — Chem. 15, UCC 15. Fouled Out — Fredrickson. Technical Foul — Yuot. Rebounds — Chem. 23 (Renne 8), UCC 35 (Benzel 9). Assists — Chem. 15 (Garner 5), UCC 21 (Gilbert 15). Turnovers — Chem. 4, UCC 13.

Donovan Brink can be reached at dbrink@nrtoday.com and 541-957-4219.

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