Women’s basketball repeats as conference champs
March 8, 2017
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The California State East Bay women’s basketball team won the California Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament championship for the second year in a row on Saturday, March 5.
Despite losing head coach Suzy Barcomb and six seniors who were also the the top scorers on the team last year, East Bay managed to fill their veteran roles.
“It is an amazing feeling to win the championship, especially after we were ranked so low originally,” senior forward Remy Puou said. “I feel extremely blessed to have been able to make it to the championship round 3 of the 4 years of my college career, and to win two of them.”
Players like transfer senior guard Shomari Harris, senior forward Remy Puoi and freshman forward Morgan Greene have stepped up and helped lead the Pioneers to another extremely successful year, with Harris’ consistent scoring, and Puou and Greene’s ongoing dominance in the paint. Harris was named not only CCAA player of the year, but also the CCAA tournament MVP, while Puou and Greene received all CCAA honors, which recognizes the most consistent and impactful players in the conference.
“I am honestly just so happy my hard work was able to pay off and get notice,” Harris said. “It was a transition coming to East Bay, but I am glad I was able to come and leave an imprint and help my team.”
After their win against Chico State on Feb. 28 in the first round of the CCAA tournament, the Pioneers traveled to Southern California to play in the semifinals versus Cal Poly Pomona (17-11 overall, 14-6 conference) at the Sport Center in San Marcos.
In the first quarter, Pomona had the upper hand on the Pioneers, but East Bay managed to mount a comeback as the second quarter came approached.
The Pioneers trailed early in the second, but were aggressive in the paint and earned numerous free throw opportunities. Most of the free throws came from junior guard Bri Guillory as she led the comeback. With 3:15 left in the first half, Guillory hit a 3-pointer to put the Pioneers 29-28.
East Bay and Pomona exchanged points for a while, but the Pioneers went into the second half with the upper hand at 36-35.
Throughout the third quarter the game went back and forth, though the Broncos had the largest lead with 4 points. Despite this, East Bay managed to take the lead at the end of the quarter.
In the fourth quarter, East Bay took full control of the game. At one point, the Pioneers led by 15. The hot quarter helped the Pioneer punch their ticket into the CCAA championship game.
Bri Guillory washout off the bench and added 20 points in East Bay’s 75-63 win, as she went 4-for-6 from the field and 10-10 at the free throw line. Harris had 14 points, and Greene had 12 rebounds, which was Greene’s seventh game in a row with 10 or more rebounds.
The Pioneers were excited to advance, but knew they had to remain focused and composed for their biggest game of their season thus far — the CCAA conference championship.
In the championship game, they faced UC San Diego, a team they beat and lost to this season. This is also the team East Bay beat in last year’s CCAA championship 68-53, and lost to in the first round of the NCAA Division II tournament 59-74.
“UCSD is a great team with a good inside,” Puou said. “I personally struggled with foul trouble in our previous game with UCSD, so I had a defensive mindset coming into the game.”
In their second consecutive CCAA championship game, the Pioneers came ready to play as they outscored the Tritons in every quarter of the game, except the second.
“Our communication defensively helped us to work together to prevent UCSD from having the upper hand,” Puou said. “Luckily our offense was moving, and our shots were hitting.”
The tournament’s most valuable player, Harris, led all scorers with 24 points.
In the first quarter, East Bay was sharing the ball very well and capitalized on many opportunities that helped them take a 24-19 lead.
As the second quarter approached, both teams got stronger defensively as East Bay held the Tritons to 10 points, and the Tritons held the Pioneers to 7. The Pioneers would go on to outshoot the Tritons 42 percent to 35.6 percent the rest of the way.
East Bay also got key rebounds on offense and defense with the help of Puou with 7 rebounds, and Greene’s 13 that helped them earn not only a 9-game winning streak, but also the CCAA championship.
“Remy and Morgan play huge roles on our team because they have to defend girls who are usually bigger than them,” Harris said. “We are undersized, but their confidence and resilience helps us all the time. They are always there if I penetrate or miss a shot, I can count on them to clean it up and that has been a huge factor in our wins, and in this championship win.”