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NWAACC Game 3: vs Blue Mountain

Lady ‘Hawks crush Blue Mountain on way to championship game

Ashli Payne pulls up in traffic for a mid-range jumper while #32 and Asia Smith follows.
Dustin Barneburg / Mainstream
Ashli Payne pulls up in traffic for a mid-range jumper while #32 and Asia Smith follows.

Umpqua Community College women’s basketball team continued their championship quest behind dominating performances from the inside/outside tandem of sophomores Asia Smith and Kyndal Charleston.

Smith scored 15 points and grabbed a game-high 19 rebounds, while Charleston buried six of her eight 3-point attempts, leading to a team-high 25 points, and the right to play for the championship Tuesday evening at the Toyota Center.

“I was proud of the team’s effort tonight.  The third day of the tournament is usually a gut-check day.  Players are tired and sore.  I was just pleased with how hard they played for the third day in a row,” coach Dave Stricklin stated.

It was a tight contest throughout the first-half with the Timberwolves leading 30-25, with 5:50 to play.  The Riverhawks clawed their way back to 36-36 all, before guard Rachel Sample drained a trey at the buzzer sending Umpqua into half-time with a 39-36 advantage.

UCC came out firing in the second-half.  A pair of baskets by freshman Ashli Payne quickly helped spark a 15-0 Riverhawk run.  Charleston’s back-to-back 3-pointers gave Umpqua a 56-43 lead with 14:14 remaining in the contest.

UCC stretched the Blue Mountain deficit to as much as twenty four with 8:38 to play, before cruising to an 85-68 victory.

The Riverhawks had a number of key contributions which led to a victory.  Sample was a huge factor off the bench finishing with 20 points, three rebounds and 2 assists.

“People forget Rachel started every game for us last year.  She comes off the bench by choice.  Rachel is a great player.” coach Stricklin said.

In addition, the inside presence of Smith was evident with 17 of her 19 rebounds coming from the defensive end.

“Asia completely controlled the defensive glass tonight,” commented Strickln.

“We kept telling each other, that we have one more game together.  No matter what, we went after everything.  Every 50/50 ball we got tonight.  It was great,” sophomore Asia Smith stated.

The ‘Hawks will enter the championship round with confidence in their 6-month preparation.

“We have worked hard all season for this.  Making the finals isn’t a surprise to us,” guard Romanalyn Inocencio said.

Regardless of the outcome in Tuesday’s championship, for the sophomores it marks the final time the Umpqua Community College women’s basketball team will play together.

“I started crying today already. I just love these girls with all my soul.  I want to end it on a good note, but win or lose, we will always be family,” Asia Smith commented.

Umpqua (24-6, 10-2 South) will face Columbia Basin (26-4, 13-1 East) at 5:30pm, in a winner take all match-up for the 2013-14 NWAACC title.