Clark v. RiverHawks
The Umpqua RiverHawks men’s basketball team notched their seventh straight victory on Saturday, Jan. 19 defeating Clark by a score of 76-67 in Vancouver, Washington. Umpqua’s record improved to 12-6 with the road victory and 5-0 in conference play.
Umpqua was able to overcome a slow start that saw them struggle to make baskets early on in the game. However, UCC Guard Connor Shaw led all scorers with 23 points to go along with his six rebounds.
“Connor definitely set the tone for us on offense; he was getting into the lane, and he finished on a lot of his shots in there,” head coach Daniel Leeworthy said.
Guard Eric Klekas added 16 of his own points including a game sealing 3-pointer with just over a minute left in regulation.
Despite being out-rebounded by Clark, Umpqua overcame an eight-point first half deficit with solid defense. UCC forced 16 turnovers helping their offense spread the floor on the fast break.
“The first half was very uncharacteristic of us. We weren’t moving the ball as much; there was one pass and then someone would try to force a shot instead of relying on ball movement. Our shot selection was a little off, and we made sure to address it at half time. We got better ball movement and got the ball inside the paint more in the second half,” Leeworthy said.
Overcoming a first half that saw them shoot only 36 percent from the field, Umpqua was able to start knocking down baskets and saw their shooting percentage climb in the second half, building a double-digit lead in the process.
“We were up by 16 points with four minutes left in the game, so in my mind it was a time and possession game. We were trying to drain the clock a little bit in order to secure the victory, maybe we counted our chickens before they hatched a little bit,” Leeworthy explained,
“To their credit, Clark made it a four-point game with just under three minutes remaining. They were hitting some tough shots, and we were missing some of ours, and then Erick hit that big 3-pointer to seal the game. He’s hit a lot of big shots for us this season. It was good to come away with another road win.”
Umpqua finished the game shooting 47 percent from the field on their way to a 76-67 victory on the road.
“We’ve won nine out of our last ten games, but we’re just focusing on the next game, taking it one game at a time. Hopefully we are in a good position to compete for a championship in the end,” Leeworthy said.
RiverHawks v. Chemeketa
Unfortunately, the RiverHawks failed to capture any second half magic during their matchup against Chemeketa on Wednesday, Jan. 23 in Roseburg. A close game wire to wire, Chemeketa squeaked by Umpqua by a final score of 84-81 snapping the RiverHawks seven game win streak.
From the tip-off, UCC went back and forth with Chemeketa on Wednesday night. Closing out the first half, the RiverHawks knotted the score with a buzzer beater layup by center John Morrill-Keeler.
Once again, UCC came out strong in the second half leading by as many as nine points with under 15 minutes left, but Chemeketa would not give in, scoring seven unanswered points of their own and retaking a 58-57 advantage over Umpqua.
Although Chemeketa was unable to build much of a lead, their small margin was enough to overcome Umpqua. With the loss, Umpqua’s record now sits at 12-7 overall and 5-1 in conference play.
Guard Eric Klekas led Umpqua in points scoring 22 points including 6 for 9 from beyond the three points line. Connor Shaw added 20 of his own points but struggled to find space against Chemeketa’s swarming defense.
UCC will look to get back in the win column in their matchup against Portland which will take place in Portland on Saturday, Jan. 26.