By Jeremy McDonald
OREGON CITY, Ore.– They been there; in tight, hard-fought games like this before. The experience was there for the Clackamas Community College Women’s team.
But, in this Northwest Conference match-up versus one of the two front-runners in Umpqua Community College, they found a way to finish. To pull the upset of the Riverhawks 70-66, giving UCC their first lost of the NWAC season.
“It’s huge, we’ve been all along, we’re that close of being one of those teams,” said Cougars Head Coach Jim Martineau. “Right now, Lane and Umpqua are those teams. We’ve played everybody in the top seven and we haven’t had a good win against one of those teams.
“We’ve played people close, we’ve had Wentachee beat and then got beat at the buzzer. So this is our first big win against a Top 3 team. I think it’ll go a long way for the girls.”
Even the players knew the importance of this win.
“It’s a huge win, (Umpqua) is always a good game when we play them,” said Lexi Pittman on the match-up. “Especially at home, we got to protect our home court, they’re a really good team and it’s a huge win for us.”
Tied at 66 with under a minute to go in a pressure cooker of a game and desperate for a stop, Umpqua fouled Clackamas’ Lexi Pittman and sent her to the line.
She hits both shots.
Driving down the court, looking for a three-pointer for the win and the clock ticking and ticking and ticking; the Cougars made their move and stole the ball with 25 seconds left.
After a timeout, coming off the inbound, Pittman was fouled hard away from the ball as she went to the line to put the game away.
“What was going through my mind was that these free throws were going to win the game, so I knew I had to knock them down,” said Pittman. “It was definitely nerve-racking , but you have to come in and play every minute like it’s the last.”
Again, she hits both as a big defensive stand kept the Riverhawks from milking a possible four-point play.
“We had to stay in it because the game wasn’t over,” said Jo Paine on the final few moments of the game. “That’s our biggest thing, just pulling together at the end, I mean it was a good game, it was fun.”
For Martineau, he was impressed by his defensive performance to close out the game.
“The last six minutes, that is as good as play,” he said “We did a great job defensively. I’m really proud of the girls.
“We didn’t shoot the ball great for the game, but enough to get it done.”
Clackamas led 6-2 before 3 by Jasmyne Davis sparked a 8-4 advantage to have the game tied at 10 with under four to go in the first quarter.
Trading blow for blow like a heavy weight boxing match, the game was tied at 16 entering the second quarter.
The Lady Cougars open a 22-19 lead seven minutes into the second after Lauren Lindley went one-for-two on the free throw line, but was quickly matched by a three by the Riverhawks in a 8-0 run that had Umpqua lead 27-22 5:16 left in the half.
“We started the game off right, it was close,” said Paine. “Our defense was neck and neck. That’s a tough game you want to play in. They’re fun, the environment and everybody; it’s fun.”
Clackamas continued to battle, cutting a 29-24 ‘hawks lead to two and a Jo Paine three-pointer at the halftime buzzer kept the Cougs to within three at half.
Behind Emma Planter and Paine, Clackamas took a quick 34-33 lead to start the second half.
But behind the help of Pittman, the Lady Cougars hit three straight three-pointers to help build a 44-37 lead on Umpqua.
Like the trend all game, no lead was safe and the Riverhawks cut Clackamas’ lead to one entering the fourth quarter.
By the first minute of the final act, Umpqua took the lead off a Sawyer Kluge shot before the Cougs regained the lead momentarily before Olivia Williams gave the Hawks a one point lead with six to go.
Down three, Pittman hit yet another three to tie it at 60 and a mid-range shot to give her team the lead under five to go.
The lead grew to four, down to two, then tied at 64 with 1:45 left as the game came down to the wild finish tied at 66.
CCC GUYS STORY: https://jmcdonaldmedia.com/2016/01/16/cougar-men-battle-for-100-94-victory-over-ucc/
PHOTO GALLERY (PICTURES BY JEREMY MCDONALD)