Women’s basketball season comes to an end

Marissa Marshall,
Staff Writer

The California State East Bay women’s basketball team saw their season come to an end in the first round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II tournament.

“It is bittersweet that the season is over, but this season taught me how to fight through adversity and continue to work hard no matter the circumstances,” senior guard Shomari Harris told the Pioneer.

The Pioneers lost, 74-48, to the no.16 rated Western Washington Vikings (26-6 overall, 18-2 conference) on Friday in Alaska, at the Alaska Airlines Arena.

Before the loss, the Pioneers were on a nine-game winning streak which included the California Collegiate Athletic Association Conference championship, which they won for the second year in a row when they beat UC San Diego 62-53 on March 4.

East Bay did not play their best game against Western Washington, as they shot just 29 percent from the field in comparison to the Vikings’ 50 percent. They were also dominated in the paint 39-26, which was unusual for the Pioneers who are dominant down low. Every team that enters the NCAA tournament is dominant and it is win or go home.

“Unfortunately, we played one of our worst games of the season; it happened to be our last,” Harris said. “We did not play East Bay basketball and we never caught the flow of the game. They rushed our minds.”

In the first quarter, Western Washington came out strong and went on a 9-0 run against  the Pioneers and it was evident it would be a challenge for East Bay to pull out a victory. Harris drove into the paint for a layup and got fouled with 6:01 left in the first quarter that put the game at 9-3, the smallest point margin between the Pioneers and Vikings during the entire game.

After that, the Vikings shooting got hot and they increased their lead by 13 by the end of the first quarter, 20-7.

As the team went into the second quarter, the game was out of East Bay’s hands due to missed shots and turnovers. Western Washington continued to increase their lead, and went into the halftime break up by 16 points.

Harris has been the key for East Bay’s success all season and played the entire 40 minutes in the game. She scored 23 points, but was just 1-for-5 from three point range, which was very uncharacteristic for the senior CCAA conference player of the year. The Pioneers as a unit were also only 2-for-17 from behind the three-point line, which hindered them from making any type of comeback.

“It was rough out there,” freshman forward Morgan Greene said. “I just feel that our team was so young and for all of us, except Remy [Puou], this was the first time we played in a game on this platform. Ultimately, it isn’t an excuse but we just were not as experienced and Western Washington was hitting shots and we were not.”

Western Washington continued to score in the second half and East Bay did not, which led to the loss and the end of the season for the Pioneers.

Greene had 10 rebounds, sophomore guard Elayshia Woolridge had 8 points and senior center Remy Puou had 4 points and 3 rebounds.

The Pioneers obtained an incredible amount of success this season ending their season 22-9 overall and 16-4 in conference. East Bay will lose two huge contributors in Puou and Harris, but they have a promising group of young players like Greene and Woolridge and a coaching staff led by first year head coach Shanele Stires.

“Even though we lost, it taught each of us younger players the level that we have to get to and how all of us have room for improvement,” Greene said. “Losing senior leaders like Shomari and Remy will definitely be a big loss of us, but I am excited about the incoming players coach is bringing in. I think we can do some great things next year as long as we remain determined. Coach has talked to us and enforced on how much us returners need to get serious about getting better for next season, and we will.”