Women make history in tournament


Tam V. Duong Jr.

Photo by Tam Duong Jr./The Pioneer

Louis LaVenture,
News and Sports Editor

The Cal State East Bay women’s basketball team made history program Saturday night.

In a rematch of the 2015 California Collegiate Athletic Association Conference championship game, the Pioneers (27-4 overall, 28-2 conference) avenged last season’s loss after they defeated the Cal State Dominguez Hills Toros (22-9, 18-2), 68-53, at Stockton Arena. This is the first conference championship for CSUEB since they joined the CCAA in 2009-2010, the same year the school became an NCAA Division II member.

“It’s a surreal feeling,” CSUEB senior guard Shannon Bland said. “It’s such an honor to be a part of the program that is bringing history to this university. To set a standard for athletics and women’s basketball with this group of people is very exciting.”

Senior and East Bay’s all-time leading scorer, Tori Breshers, led the way for the Pioneers. The forward tallied a game-high 23 points and 5 rebounds in 32 minutes on the floor. Fellow seniors, Laci Effenberger and Shannon Bland, also had big games. The two guards combined to record 24 points and 9 rebounds, while Effenberger also had 6 assists and 3 steals. This was the school record-setting fourteenth consecutive victory for the Pioneers, who haven’t lost a game since Jan. 16, 64-63 to Cal State San Bernardino.

Also, CSUEB accomplished another first in program history after the conference championship game triumph. For the first time the Pioneers qualified for the NCAA Division II West Regionals, which are scheduled for March 11 through 14 at Felix Event Center, the home court of the number one seeded Azusa Pacific University. On Friday, in their first game, the Pioneers will have a rematch of their conference tournament semifinal contest against UC San Diego. It took overtime, but East Bay was able to hold off the Tritons, 79-77, on their way to their first ever CCAA championship.

This will be the third matchup between the two teams this season. They played on Jan. 15 at Pioneer Gymnasium in Hayward, however, the Tritons managed to escape with a 56-54 victory. East Bay is ranked as the fourth seed while the Tritons are the fifth seed.

“We know that it is really survive and advance situation,” Bland said. “Both teams know each other very well, so it will be an exciting and tough game.”

The winner will advance to Saturday to take on the winner of Azusa Pacific (27-3, 19-1) and Montana State University at Billings (21-10, 15-5). The championship game will be held on Monday and the winner will advance to the NCAA Division II Championship Tournament in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.