The women’s basketball team put a thumping on Shasta en route to their first win of the season in their home opener last Tuesday, with a final score of 84-48 in favor of the RiverHawks.
The RiverHawk’s offense was fueled by sophomore guard Taylor Stricklin, who led all scorers with 24 points including shooting four of eight from beyond the 3-point line.
Freshman forward Sienna Riggle notched 12 rebounds leading all other players and ultimately helping Umpqua dominate the glass by a margin of 50 rebounds to Shasta’s 24.
Head Coach Dave Stricklin explained after the game how much of a relief it was to finally get back on the basketball court with the team.
“I was admittedly a little more anxious as the start of the season approached. But once that first game rolled around and we started playing I thought, we’re going to be all right,” Stricklin said.
UCC had three players with four assists. Guard Grace Campbell led the team with five assists to go with her efficient scoring night, shooting a healthy five of eight from the floor.
The RiverHawks were able to maintain a double-digit lead for the majority of the contest by spreading the floor with their ball movement. Umpqua tallied 22 assists, making it difficult for Shasta’s defense to stop their offense. Umpqua attacked the defense with a healthy balance of perimeter shots combined with points in the paint.
After last year’s strong season which saw the RiverHawks fall just short of winning NWAC Championship, this year’s squad is full of new faces. UCC lost two of their top scoring threats in Jordan Stotler and Daisy Powell, and Umpqua traded some height for speed.
“Every year we try to recruit the best players possible regardless of position and size,” Stricklin explained.
“We’ve won with big teams, and we’ve won with smaller teams. Most of the time work ethic, attitude, and team chemistry are more important than height anyway. We would love to have another six foot four Jordan Stotler on our team but there just aren’t many of those around every year,” Stricklin said.
This year’s roster features several dynamic wing players who use their speed and acceleration to stretch the floor and attack the basket inside and out.
“We have several freshmen worth watching. [In high school] Darian Mitchell, Cielo Gonzalez and Grace Campbell were all named to Oregon All State teams and Sienna Riggle was named All Region in Utah,” Stricklin said.
Taylor Stricklin, the only returning player from last year’s roster, is set to step up as UCC’s featured option. Stricklin was a noticeable leader on the court in Umpqua’s opening game, directing traffic and barking out plays on both sides of the ball. She is expected to play a huge role in leading the team forward this season, and, based on how she started the season, she is ready.
“Taylor started every game for us last year as a freshman, averaged 16 points a game, and was named the NWAC Southern Region Freshman of the Year, and to the NWAC All Southern Region team,” Stricklin explained.
Darian Mitchell will be the other team captain this season. Mitchell was on last year’s roster but injuries kept her from seeing any game time.
“A pre-season injury caused Darian to miss the first six weeks last season but once she was healthy, she practiced with us the rest of the year but didn’t play in any games. Both Darian and Taylor are already extremely familiar with how the program is run and what the standards and expectations are and both are outstanding leaders. They certainly make my job much easier,” Stricklin said of Mitchell.
After winning their home opener, the RiverHawks traveled across Oregon to take part in the CCC Thanksgiving Invitational where they were able to rattled off three straight wins. Umpqua defeated Mt Hood 82-70, Olympic 87-56, and wrapped up with a victory against Clackamas by a final score of 102-99 all scores in Umpqua’s favor. This win streak is only the beginning for this this group according to their coach.
“We want to work extremely hard to keep getting better week by week and then put ourselves in a position where we are prepared and capable of making a run in the playoffs. If we do those things the wins will take care of themselves,” Stricklin said.
With a four-game winning streak already under their belt, UCC will look to continue their hot start on December 7 where they will be on the road to take on Centralia in what is being called the “Centralia Tournament”. The game will take place at Centralia Community College in Washington and tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.