Daisy Powell led the RiverHawks to second place in NWAC.
Despite suffering a loss to Walla Walla in the 2018 NWAC Tournament Championship, UCC Center Daisy Powell set an NWAC scoring record, notching a total of 146 points in four games. Powell entered the contest just four points shy of passing the previous record of 123 points set by Mar’Shay Moore in 2015, but still felt plenty of pressure prior to the game.
“I was pretty nervous, but my team just reminded me to stay positive,” Powell said.
Powell is no stranger to setting records this tournament, already having tied and broken the NWAC Tournament single game scoring record, totaling 46 and 47 points in consecutive games. Her success, according to coach Dave Stricklin, does not come without the help of her teammates.
“Daisy was dominant; she certainly deserved it, but there’s so much more that goes into it, I think that if Jordan [Stotler], Alyssa [Grenfell] and Taylor [Stricklin] aren’t getting Daisy the ball and doing what they’re supposed to do, that record doesn’t happen.”
Although the UCC River Hawks fell short of their ultimate goal of winning the NWAC Tournament Championship and came in second, the team has taken pride in knowing that they were able to take a step forward from last season which saw them fall short in the Final 4.
“We set several records. Alyssa tied the record for most assists in a single game, Daisy set the record for highest scoring average in a tournament — the previous record was set in 1995, and our team set the NWAC scoring record and scored the highest average ever. We did some things this tournament that will put Umpqua in the record book for decades,” coach Stricklin said.
UCC ended up losing to Walla Walla by a final score of 90-74. Walla Walla handed UCC its biggest loss of the season and shot over 40 percent from behind the 3-point line. UCC faced trouble early on when center Jordan Stotler was forced to sit out a significant amount of the first half due to foul trouble.
“We were last in the NWAC in fouls committed, we didn’t foul, so when Jordan gets two fouls in the first three minutes of the game that changes everything all of a sudden,” Stricklin said.
With Stotler out, Walla Walla focused their efforts on shutting down the paint on defense. With early foul trouble altering normal substitutions, Stricklin was forced to improvise his game plan.
“By the time you’ve played this many games, everybody has certain roles, and they know when they’re being subbed into the game and what they have to do as a team. You take something that hasn’t happened all year, and three minutes in all of a sudden everything we planned for and prepared for is thrown out the window. I thought that changed the whole complexion of the game,” Stricklin said.
This year UCC committed less fouls per game on average than any other NWAC team, so when they fell into foul trouble early on Stricklin felt UCC was unable to operate at full strength.
“I have to whole heartedly disagree that those fouls should have been called in that situation. It doesn’t take away from our team and what they’ve done all year. It was that one three-minute stretch that kind of threw a wrench in everything. If those things don’t happen, it’s entirely possible that we have a different outcome. I think the game was a lot closer than the actual score. Jordan Stotler scored 16 points in the second half. If Jordan is able to play the first half and score 16 points, it could have possibly resulted in an entirely different outcome,” Stricklin added.
UCC had several players return from last year’s team, and they entered this season motivated to lead. While the loss hasn’t been easy to take, coach Stricklin isn’t letting the results of one game define his team’s entire season.
“They have improved drastically as a team and individually. If you have a group that stays together the more you play together, the more you play together the more you should get better and improve. I thought this team did a great job; they did everything we asked of them. Unfortunately you get into situations where everything comes down to one game.
Sometimes when everything is on the line the best team doesn’t always win, and that’s what makes the tournament so exciting. Anytime you’re in a do-or-die situation, it comes down to one game, so obviously we wanted to win that last one and to be able to say we won the NWAC Championship, but not winning it doesn’t take away anything we’ve done all year and I’m not one hundred percent positive that if we had won [the Championship] that it would have added more to the satisfaction and progress we’ve made all year,” coach Stricklin said.
In the end, despite a valiant effort UCC fell short, but this is a team that is always ready for a challenge.
“If we won it would have been really cool for a couple of days, but then it’s [still] right back to work and back to trying to get ready for next year.”