Lane v. RiverHawks
UCC men’s basketball team secured perhaps their biggest victory of the season as they locked down the Lane Titans at home in Roseburg on Wednesday, Jan. 30.
Lane entered the match as the top-scoring team in the Northwest Athletic Conference, but that didn’t stop the RiverHawks from putting the clamps on, holding the Titans to a season low scoring effort in a 68-64 victory.
“We approach every game the same way, but I think knowing we had Lane next on the schedule had the team playing with a little more motivation,” coach Daniel Leeworthy said of the match-up.
In the defensive battle between the two teams, Umpqua held Lane’s high-powered offense to a 35.7 shooting percentage.
“I’m a passionate coach, and I think that our team embodies that as well. As the season moves forward, I see more passion on the defensive end,” Leeworthy said.
Sophomore guard Connor Shaw led the way on offense for the RiverHawks, scoring 13 of his 17 points in the first half, leading Umpqua to a nine point advantage at half-time.
Lane would not go down without a fight, as they clawed their way back to trim Umpqua’s lead down to 53-51 with just over 12 minutes left in the game.
Despite Umpqua answering with a run of their own, Lane fought back to take the lead with two and a half minutes to go when Titan’s guard Tarik Cool drilled a three-pointer putting Lane ahead late in the game by a score of 62-61.
Trailing by one with two minutes left on the clock, Umpqua’s Shaw stripped the ball away from a driving Tarik Cool. Shaw then drove the ball up court where he found sophomore guard Eric Klekas for a wide-open corner three, bringing the score to a 64-64 stalemate with just one minute left in the game.
The following possession, Shaw intercepted a pass and scored the go-ahead bucket on a fast-break layup putting Umpqua ahead 66-64, ultimately sealing the victory in the RiverHawk’s favor by a final score of 68-64.
“Connor had a big game on offense, but when he’s active defensively he makes a huge difference for us. He had a couple of big shots and a couple of big steals late in the game. On defense he did a really good job against Lane’s explosive guards. I thought we were terrific on the defensive end. Connor is one of our team captains, and he really did a great job on both ends of the floor against the Titans,” Leeworthy said.
Linn-Benton v. RiverHawks
Umpqua continued their success with a dominant road win in Albany against the Linn-Benton Roadrunners on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
Umpqua’s victory came without leading scorer Connor Shaw, who was recovering from an injury on the sideline. With Shaw on the bench, sophomore guard Erik Klekas came out blazing in the first half, scorching Linn-Benton for 21 first half points, leading Umpqua to a 37-31 lead at the break.
Freshman guard Brock Gilbert wrapped up the first half by banking in a deep three-pointer as time expired, bringing the RiverHawks’ first half lead to 40-31. Freshman center John Morrill-Keeler added 10 of his 18 points in this half as UCC’s second leading score.
After jumping out to a healthy first half advantage, Umpqua cruised through the second half of the game on their way to an impressive 83-71 road victory in the RiverHawks’ favor. Klekas finished the night with 23 points, six rebounds, and six assists. Kolten Mortensen shot an efficient 5-7 from the field, adding 12 of his own points.
The RiverHawks look to maintain their spot atop the Southern Region standings as they take on Southwestern Oregon at home today in Roseburg.