Basketball comes up short at regionals

Louis LaVenture,
News and Sports Editor

History was made, but it came to an end.

In the third matchup of the season between the two teams, UC San Diego advanced after they handed CSUEB a 74-59 loss in the NCAA Division II West Regionals in Azusa. The Tritons finish the season 2-1 against the Pioneers this year, who set a program-high in wins, winning percentage and won the California Collegiate Athletic Association Conference tournament for the first time ever.

East Bay finished the season 27-5 overall and 18-2 in conference, both school records. The Pioneers posted winning streaks of 11 and 14 games this season and senior Tori Breshers also became the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,375.

“It feels incredible to be a part of such a big movement, yet alone be a major part in it,” Breshers said. “This program has grown so much since I’ve been a part of it and to partake in becoming a champion leaves me speechless every time.”

Breshers capped off her stellar career by leading the Pioneers in scoring, 14.8 per game, rebounds at 6.6 per game and blocks with 43. However, those numbers went out the window in the regional contest against the Tritons who dominated East Bay on their way to a 74-59 victory. Despite keeping the game close for much of the first half, CSUEB still trailed San Diego 33-26.

The Tritons came out in the second half on fire. Led by a pair of seniors, in guard Jamie Katuna and forward Farrah Shokoor, San Diego was able to balloon their lead to 14 points going into the fourth and final quarter.

“I thought Jamie and Farrah played fantastic as usual,” CSUEB Head Coach Suzy Barcomb said. “They are a tremendous tandem.”

The tandem combined to put up 32 points, 19 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks in the winning effort. Katuna and Shokoor are the only two departing seniors for San Diego who lost in the West Regional championship game against Alaska Anchorage 72-57.

For the entire second half, the Pioneers were forced to play from behind and a couple of times they managed to cut into the Triton lead, however they could not get over the hump. When Breshers returned to the lineup in the fourth quarter after a rest, she hit a few key layups to bring CSUEB closer, but San Diego managed to answer back nearly every time down the court. A Breshers layup with 5:49 left in the game made the score 64-51 in favor of the Tritons and was the closest that CSUEB got for the rest of the contest.

It was a slew of seniors that led the way for the Pioneers in their final game with Breshers tallying 16 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks — all team-highs. Senior guards Laci Effenberger, Madison Craig and Shannon Bland all finished with double-digit scoring nights as the trio combined for 34 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds and 5 steals in the loss.

Effenberger averaged 11.6 points and 4 assists this year while Bland put up 13.1 points and 3.5 assists in the record-setting season for the Pioneers.

Normally free throws don’t get much attention, however, it was the charity stripe disparity that contributed largely to the final score. San Diego got to the free throw line 25 times making 20 of them, while East Bay got to the line just 10 times converting on only half, 5.

East Bay will lose nearly half of their team to graduation. Breshers, Craig, Bland, Effenberger, Ashleigh Anderson and Bianca Littleton were huge contributors to this year’s record-breaking team and their presence will have to be made up for by several underclassmen.

Junior forward Remy Puou will be the elder statesmen on next year’s team. Puou played the most minutes of any underclassmen and averaged 6.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in 577 minutes of playing time. Junior forward Katrina Bacovcin and sophomore guard Marianne Fernandez were the only other underclassmen to play at least 100 minutes this season and will likely be expected to play bigger roles next season.