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Women: Peninsula downs Lane for first NWAC title

NWAC Championship Updates
Toyota Center, Kennewick, Wash.
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Tuesday, March 10

Championship Game

Peninsula celebrates the first title in program history.

5:30 p.m. Women -- Peninsula 85, Lane 75 [stats]

As far as championships were concerned, it was David and Goliath: Lane was looking for their league-record fifth title, while Peninsula was looking for their first.

Not only did the Pirates come into the tournament without a championship to their names, they came in without a win in the tournament, having gone winless through all 11 of their championship game appearances.

That never slowed the Pirates' resolve as Peninsula, following the lead of head coach Alison Crumb, approached every game this season as a championship game. The mindset led the Pirates to a Northern Region title, and now Peninsula will have an NWAC title to go along with it.

Peninsula came from seven down in the second half and led by as many as 13 down the stretch, defeating the mighty Lane Titans to claim the first NWAC championship in program history.

Peninsula struck first, but after giving up the first bucket of the game, Lane went on to score the next nine points, eventually taking a 13-5 lead on a quick catch and shoot from Jordan Kimbrough in the paint. But during that stretch, the already injury-laden Titans lost another body -- 5-foot-10 post Marikah Wright, who collapsed going for a rebound and didn't return to the game.

With one of the Titans' big bodies on the training table, the Pirates looked to take advantage, pushing the ball up the floor and attacking the paint. The approach worked, as Imani Smith was able to draw seven free throw attempts in the final few minutes of the first half.

Miranda Schmillen was a perfect two-for-two from distance for the Pirates at the first half, leading first half scoring with 10 points. Peninsula led by as many as six points in the first half, and held a 36-32 edge at the break.

The opening minutes of the second half were dominated by Peninsula's post presence, Gabi Fenumiai. Just as the Pirates had discovered in their defeat of Umpqua an evening earlier, feeding Fenumiai the ball time and time again was difficult for Lane to stop.

With so much focus on the paint, things started to open up all over the court for Peninsula, who took a 46-40 lead on another three from Madison Pilster.

But that's when the wheels finally started to roll for Lane. The Titans went on a 13-0 run to turn a six-point deficit into a seven point lead with 12:12 left in the game, firing on all offensive cylinders and hardly allowing Peninsula to get a shot off.

The Titans had the momentum and were clogging up the paint, daring Peninsula to shoot threes, which they did -- and to great success. Schmillen hit the two in a row to cut the deficit to a single point at 53-52, Then Imani Smith connected on two free throws to give the Pirates a lead they would never surrender.

The Pirates led by 13 points with less than two minutes to go on an offensive board and bucket from Fenumiai, and while the Titans did manage to get within seven points, Peninsula remained firmly in control over the final two minutes.

Women’s All-Tournament Team

Madison Pilster – Peninsula

Most Inspirational
Jacia Jointer - Lane

1st Team
Marissa Cabllero – Columbia Basin
Aminata Cole – SW Oregon
Jordan Kimbrough – Lane
Zhara Laster – Peninsula
Mar’Shay Moore – Blue Mountain

2nd Team
Kyahri Adams – Centralia
Bre Dubois - Lane
Gabi Fenumiai - Peninsula
Mikayla Jones – Bellevue
Kaylea Knox – Lower Columbia
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