East Bay Women’s Basketball Advances to NCAA DII West Region Final

Scarlet Schwenk, Managing Editor

The Lady Pioneers are four games away from bringing home a National Title

HAYWARD, Calif. – For the first time in program history, California State University, East Bay women’s basketball are playing in an NCAA DII Women’s Basketball Championship Region Final. The Lady Pioneers are set to play Western Washington University on Monday, March 14, at the Pioneer Gymnasium at 7 p.m. 

As the clock hit triple-zero Saturday night, the Pioneers celebrated a victory over Azusa Pacific University (82-74), with senior Madison Schiller leading the game in scoring, with 19 points while shooting a sizzling 8-11 from the field. 

Azusa Pacific, a veteran team, has gone to the Elite Eight tournament three times, creating a battle for The Pioneers. 

“It was a war [against Azusa], it was knocked down, it was dragged out. But I think that’s been our style as we play however we need to play. They presented us with a unique challenge… we’ve had to modify what we do. Coming out of that, our kids have a lot of confidence,” said head coach of East Bay Women’s Basketball Shanele Stires.  

Trailing closely, CCAA Conference Tournament MVP Zhane Duckett registered 17 points, with Mina Tameliau adding 12 points. In the fourth quarter, the Pioneers’ defense limited Azusa Pacific University to 40% shooting from the field, down from 63.64% in the first. 

“We knew it was going to be a dog fight [against APU]. They’ve been in this position. They have veterans on their team who have advanced through the West region into the Elite Eight,” Stires said in a postgame interview.  

The dog fight will continue in their final matchup of the series against Western Washington University, which sports an overall conference record of 22-5. The game is East Bay’s last needed win to advance to the Elite Eight in Birmingham, Ala., beginning on March 21.

Playing 40 minutes of East Bay basketball, a phrase coined by the team is crucial in their quest to bring home a National Title to the Hayward Hills. 

“We pride ourselves as a team [playing] basketball. We never know whose turn it is per game. We all just lean on each other, and when it’s time for you to step up, someone will do it, and that’s how we play,” Schiller explained in an interview with Pioneer Athletics. 

The Pioneers’ have their work cut out for them this Monday at 7 p.m. Their final opponents are the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Regular Season Champions, Western Washington’s Vikings, who come into the contest averaging 69 ppg while the Pioneers have limited opponents to 57 ppg. The high-powered offense of the Vikings going up against the swarming defense of The Pioneers is shaping up to be a classic championship battle of contrasting styles.

Warriors guard Stephen Curry gave a special shout-out to The Pioneers, wishing them luck headed into today’s game, captured by CSUEB Communication and broadcasting student-athlete Michael Francisco. 

“Congratulations on winning the [CCAA] championship this year. Wishing you the best, keep going. Way to put it on,” said Curry.  

The Western Washington Vikings are aiming for their third regional title (last won in 2000 & 2013). In the last 10 of 16 trips to the regional tournament, The Vikings have recorded one win in 10 of 16 trips to the regional tournament, according to a press release

The game will be available to stream free of charge on the CCAA network, or tickets are available to purchase online for Pioneer Gymnasium located at the Hayward campus. The game will also be available through Bay Area Comcast 27, Chabot College, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku TV. 

Streaming the tournament would not be possible without the help of East Bay’s Department of Communication producing a high-quality video of The Pioneer’s games and with the support of the business community such as Coremicro, a video and audio equipment provider, based in Fremont.