Pioneers win streak snapped at home

Louis LaVenture,
News and Sports Editor

All good things must come to an end.

For the first time since November 2015, the Cal State East Bay women’s basketball team lost. The Pioneers dropped two close home games; first to UC San Diego (14-2 overall, 9-1 conference) on Friday, 56-54, and then to Cal State San Bernardino (9-5, 6-4) 64-63 on Saturday. CSUEB is now 13-4 overall and 7-2 in California Collegiate Athletic Association Conference games this season, which puts them at fourth overall in the CCAA.

“Our league is talented and with the demanding back to back games we must have a greater sense of urgency and resiliency,” CSUEB Head Coach Suzy Barcomb said. “There are always bumps along the season, it is not so much about when these challenges arise, it is about how the team responds.”

Senior guard Shannon Bland, fresh off her CCAA player of the week award, was still hot for the Pioneers and helped keep both contests close. Bland and CSUEB saw their 11 game win streak fall on Friday when the Tritons squeaked out a two-point victory late in the game.

Senior forward Bianca Littleton secured a rebound and put home a layup to tie the game at 47 with just over six minutes left, that capped off a 7-0 Pioneer run.

Both teams exchanged baskets and with 33 seconds left in the contest, Bland nailed two free throws that made the score 54-55 in favor of UCSD. The Pioneers elected to play defense on the last possession for the Tritons and they stopped them, but forward Tanite Taylor grabbed the offensive rebound and hit one of two free throws as the clock ran out.[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#490b23″]“Even when teams make runs on us that’s when we have to keep fighting and know that we can win,” Bland said.[/mks_pullquote]

Bland led the way for CSUEB again with a game-high 22 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. Junior from Hayward Remy Puou poured in 10 points in just 12 minutes on the floor.

“[Bland] is unselfish, she understands what is expected of her on a daily basis and she delivers,” Barcomb said. “Shannon is all about the team. She will do whatever is necessary to help this team and our program achieve our goals. The extra hours of work she puts into her craft are now coming to the forefront during the games.”

The Pioneers had another home game the next day against the Coyotes, and it was more of the same late game drama. CSUEB tried to avenge their first CCAA conference loss but San Bernardino outlasted the Pioneers for the one point triumph. With just under two minutes left in the game, senior guard Laci Effenberger hit a three point shot that put the Pioneers up 59-54.

Bland drilled a layup to tie the score at 61, but San Bernardino senior guard Sophie Bhasin hit a three to put them up for good. The Coyotes went on a 10-4 run to close out the game, giving CSUEB their second consecutive loss of the season. Once again, Bland led the way with a career-high 26 points in the loss.

“Even when teams make runs on us that’s when we have to keep fighting and know that we can win,” Bland said. “Success is hard, but my team is accepting the challenge and we’re just trying to improve everyday.”

Seniors Tori Breshers and Bland both rank in the top ten in scoring in the conference. The Pioneers have to go on the road now for three consecutive games. Their first test will be tomorrow when they travel to San Francisco State (4-11, 2-7) to take on the Gators at 5:30 p.m.