East Bay Women’s Basketball Season Ends at West Region Final

Scarlet Schwenk, Managing Editor

The Pioneers garnered an impressive season record of 24-3 and made East Bay History as the first women’s basketball team at East Bay to play in the NCAA DII West Region Final

HAYWARD, Calif. —California State University, East Bay women’s basketball team lost in the final game of the West Region Final against Western Washington University’s Vikings (73-59) on Monday, March 14, 2022. 

Coming from Washington, the Evergreen state (known for its abundant forests) had trees on its team, with girls ranging from 5’8 to 6’3. East Bay went 21-72 (29%) shooting from the field, down from their season average of 39.8%. 

During the second quarter, the Vikings gained momentum, shooting 22-48 from the field (45%), above their season’s average of 41%. The Vikings’ height proved too much for the Pioneers to handle, failing to capitalize on second-chance shot opportunities that typically save their game(s). 

“Until you get on the court, it’s hard to prepare for that kind of length that we saw tonight. Second shot attempts were either blocked or [lost]…we’ve been undersized the whole season, that’s been the strength of the way we play [but] tonight it just wasn’t enough to turn them over with,” said Shanele Stires, East Bay women’s basketball head coach. 

#13 Taylor Linzie attempting a point in the paint, blocked by Western Washington’s Brooke Walling (Photo by Marcus Smith)

East Bay women’s basketball came onto the court with winning on their minds to a room filled with pre-game anxiety. Students filled the stand, dressed in all white with “Hype Squad” written on their shirts, serving as the honorary cheer squad. 

“Coming onto the court, we were ready. We saw the crowd and how much we impacted our school [with] creating history, it’s been [an] amazing feeling,” senior Faith Turner explained. 

East Bay’s ‘Hype Squad’ filled the stands on Monday in support of the Lady Pioneers (Photo by Marcus Smith)

The Pioneers put up a fight, using their strength of speed and shooting. The Hype Squad, filling Pioneer Gymnasium with cheers, fell quiet in the fourth quarter as the clock expired, bringing the Pioneer season to an end.

Despite the loss, The Lady Pioneers made history at East Bay as the first team in program history to play in the NCAA DII Division West Region Final. 

“The legacy that [Turner and Schiller] are leaving behind is one that is unlike any other senior class in program and school history, to take the program to the level it’s at right now. So the hard work these two made and the work they put in, not only as players but humans, are two people that every parent wants as their daughters; I’m so proud of what they’ve accomplished,” Stires elaborated. 

Senior Madison Schiller led the team in scoring with 15 points, followed by Taylor Linzie registering nine. Leaving behind a legacy, Schiller is grateful for her time on the team and the lifelong friendships built during her time on the East Bay women’s basketball team. 

“I wouldn’t want to finish the season with anyone else. It was good to be home, I wish we could’ve won, but I had a great season here, a great six years. I love East Bay; I love being a part of East Bay,” Schiller concluded of her last game playing as a Pioneer. 

Turner shared a similar sentiment, expressing gratitude and appreciation for her team and the impact they had on East Bay’s campus, building a community through basketball.

“We all really appreciate each other; we love each other,” Turner said, adding, “it’s been a really great season with the girls, and I’m really happy we got to this point.”

From here, the program will continue in the footsteps of Schiller and Turner, leading the team to a new chapter of East Bay history. The team went 24-3 overall in the season, marking an impressive feat, setting up a successful future for East Bay women’s basketball program.  

Stires looks towards the program’s future with the hope of bringing home the 2023 National Title. Western Washington University is now headed to the Elite Eight for the fourth time in their program history. The Elite Eight begins on March 22 in Birmingham, Ala. 

“We’re gonna lose a lot with [Schiller and Turner] leaving, but the program is in a really good position right now with a young nucleus that played a lot of games that were really important. They won a championship together [and] we’re gonna add a few new pieces to an already really good recruiting class that’s coming in next year. We’d like to be in the same position next year,” Stires concluded.