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Columbia Basin pulls away for 2014 womens' title

Womens' championship: Columbia Basin 86, Umpqua 74 [stats]

The Columbia Basin Hawks celebrate with their fellow teammates, seconds after winning their second title since 2012.
Head coach Cheryl Holden swings the net, much to the enjoyment of the massive Columbia Basin contingent.

For the second time in three seasons, the Columbia Basin Hawks are NWAACC champions. The Hawks defeated Umpqua 86-74 on Tuesday night in front of a rowdy audience, blowing out the Riverhawks of Umpqua in their first trip to the finals since 2000.

The Riverhawks made themselves heard early on, taking a quick 3-0 lead on a three pointer from Kyndal Charleston. They had the game tied at 15 on a fieldgoal from Asia Smith, but when Columbia Basin broke an 18-all tie with 9:50 to go in the first half, the train started rolling.

And unfortuately for the Riverhawks, the train never really slowed down. Columbia Basin went on an 18-1 run to snap up a 16-point advantage with less than five minutes remaining in the first half, and minutes later, Alicia Jones hit a pair from the line to give the Hawks a 23 point lead. Umpqua scored the final five points of the period to get within 18, but the Hawks still held all the momentum.

That is, until they stepped back onto the floor for the second half. Columbia Basin went scoreless for the first two and a half minutes, allowing Umpqua to go on a 15-0 run dating back to the first half. With 17:31 to play, the Hawks' lead was a mere eight points, thanks to ferocious play in the paint from the Riverhawks, who held a considerable height advantage.

Umpqua played things even, and was down by just nine points at the midway mark of the second half, but the offense stalled and Columbia Basin scored seven in a row to take a 16-point lead. Their lead was 18 at the seven-minute mark, and then came the biggest blow to the Riverhawks' game: Ashli Payne, who had netted 14 points and was an essential part of the offense, picked up her fifth foul and was forced to sit.

From that point, the Riverhawks were next to helpless against Columbia Basin's relentless attack. Umpqua got to within ten points, but there was just over 30 seconds to play, and they couldn't connect on nearly enough to make a difference.

Nelson, who led the Hawks with 29 points in the victory, was selected as the tournament MVP. Alicia Jones added 16 points.

Asia Smith led Umpqua with 20 points and 11 rebounds in their best finish in over a decade.

ALL TOURNAMENT:

MVP: Courtney Nelson - Columbia Basin

1ST TEAM:

Shannon Bland - Columbia Basin

Kyndal Charleston - Umpqua

Laci Effenberger - Clackamas

Lyndsay Oswalt - Columbia Basin

Asia Smith - Umpqua

2ND TEAM:

Jade Gutzman - Blue Mountain

Shelby Snook - Lane

Irma Savoy - Chemeketa

Mar'Shay Moore - Blue Mountain

Morgan Freeman - Spokane

Art Fiero Most Inspirational:

Laci Effenberger - Clackamas


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