The Umpqua Community College Riverhawks weathered the storm Wednesday, March 1 in Roseburg, by defeating the Chemeketa Storm 84-45. With the victory, UCC finished their season with a 27-2 record overall and claimed a perfect 16-0 regional record for the first time under head coach Dave Stricklin. UCC will now gear their attention towards Treasure Valley, as the Riverhawks will play against the Chukars in their first matchup in the Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament.
“The women have experienced a special season up to this point,” UCC Athletic Director Craig Jackson said. “To finish Southern Region play with a perfect record for the first time during coach Stricklin’s tenure was a great way to cap an outstanding season in front of the season’s largest crowd.”
UCC’s success can be attributed to coach Stricklin’s leadership. Few things are left out when discussing Stricklin’s list of accomplishments. Stricklin has an overall win-loss record of 764-168, 19 different Coach of the Year Awards, 15 Final Four appearances, two NWAC Championships, and was inducted into the California Community College Coaches Hall of Fame in 2008.
“[The women] have carried on the tradition of excellence that coach Stricklin has established over his time as the head coach,” Jackson said. “It is a run of success that is not found in very many places.”
The Riverhawks will now look forward to playing the Treasure Valley Chukars in the Sweet Sixteen of the NWAC Tournament. The Chukars finished their season 17-11 overall with an 8-8 Eastern Regional record. Treasure Valley has two players averaging over 14 points. Sophomore forward Gentry Oldham averages 14.44 points per game on 51 percent shooting, while sophomore guard Chelsee Baker averages 14.21 points per game on 40 percent shooting.
Playoff basketball is an entirely different mindset than that of the mindset in the regular season. During tournament play, it’s win or go home. Treasure Valley will be seen as an underdog, especially when consideration is taken for UCC’s undefeated regional record and their No. 1 ranked offense in the NWAC. Because UCC has established themselves as one of the best teams in the NWAC, the Riverhawks will have a target on their backs and will need to take every opponent seriously.
“You can expect some big games, along with focus and determination from all of us,” UCC sophomore guard Tasia Bilbrew said who played in her final home game against the Storm. “All of our heads are focused on the game, and we’re ready to win.”
UCC will attempt to move on to the Elite Eight on Saturday, March 11 against Treasure Valley at 10 a.m. at the Walt Price Student Fitness Center in Everett, Washington.