No. 3 Tyra Turner gets isolation on the perimeter and looks for an opening to drive to the hoop. | Photo by Matt Shiffler

Jacks stunned on home floor by Pioneers

HSU women's basketball loses to Cal State East Bay in the first round of the CCAA tournament 72-62
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HSU women’s basketball loses to Cal State East Bay in the first round of the CCAA tournament 72-62

It was a heartbreaking night for the HSU women’s basketball team as the Cal State East Bay Pioneers came into Lumberjack Arena and stunned the raucous home crowd by beating the Jacks 72-62, eliminating HSU women’s basketball from the CCAA conference tournament.

The Pioneers used great shooting and forced a lot of turnovers to beat the Jacks on their home floor. The Pioneers shot 57 percent from the floor and capitalized off of costly turnovers by the Jacks late in the game.

“East Bay punched us, and we didn’t punch back. They outplayed us, out-toughed us and they played like they wanted it a whole lot more than we did.”

Head Coach Michelle Bento-Jackson

The Jacks were able to start the game well, outscoring the Pioneers 17-16 in the first quarter of the game. The second quarter was a high scoring and exciting affair as both teams traded three-pointers.

Senior guard Jovanah Arrington was on fire in the second quarter, sinking three treys and totaling 13 points in the first half alone. Unfortunately, the Jacks defense was not able to close out on the Pioneer shooters as they hit five three-pointers of their own. The Jacks still made it a close game at halftime with the Pioneers leading 39-37.

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Junior Tyra Turner sprints up court looking for an open teammate late in the fourth quarter. | Photo by Matt Shiffler

Scoring would not come as easy for the Jacks in the second half. They were able to get the Pioneers to turn the ball over 14 times, but often had trouble executing on the offensive end as they missed several shots at the rim. The Pioneers shot at a 52 percent clip in the second half while the Jacks only hit 33 percent of their shots. The Pioneers used their potent offense to outscore the Jacks 33-25 in the second half to eventually win the game.

“East Bay punched us, and we didn’t punch back,” Head Coach Michelle Bento-Jackson said. “They outplayed us, out-toughed us and they played like they wanted it a whole lot more than we did.”

Three Jacks players ended up playing all 40 minutes of the game, as Bento-Jackson only used six players throughout the game. Madeline Hatch and Gabrielle Carbajal were the only players to be subbed out of the game. However, Bento-Jackson was not making any excuses for the players.

“Overcoming those moments where your backs are against the wall is a sign of mental toughness,” Bento-Jackson said. “It’s not a physical fatigue thing.”

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Senior Isamar Conde fouls out with a minute left during her final home game as a Lumberjack. | Photo by Matt Shiffler

What made this loss even more heartbreaking was the fact that two seniors were playing in their last game at Lumberjack Arena. Senior guard Jovanah Arrington lead the team in scoring at 18 points and senior forward Isamar Conde turned in a solid performance as well, getting eight points and four rebounds.

“It’s definitely a special moment to play in this arena for the last time,” Arrington said. “It’s a really fun experience being able to play here.”

Despite the first round loss in the conference tournament, this may not be the last game that the Jacks play this season. Their fate rests in the hands of the NCAA division two selection committee. They would’ve needed to win the conference to get an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, but they still could be selected as an at-large bid.

The Jacks gain the No. 7 seed in the NCAA West Regional. HSU will travel to San Diego and play No. 2 Northwest Nazarene on Friday, March 15 at 2:30 p.m.

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