Lane falls short of final four

Rachel Unger // The Torch

In the first game of the NWAC Championship tournament, the Titans faced off against #3 seed Skagit Valley, who had an overall record of 13-14 and a conference record of 8-4. Skagit Valley came into the tournament winning four of their previous six games. The red hot Titans  entered the tournament on their own eight game winning streak.

Just up the road from Eugene in Seattle, Washington, the University of Oregon Ducks women’s basketball team won the PAC-12 tournament for the first time in school history Mar. 4. The Lane Titans will try to match that success and add another NWAC tournament trophy to their trophy case. The Titans last won the NWAC tournament in 2016, when they defeated the Peninsula Pirates 76-59.

This win streak includes one against the first seed Umpqua Riverhawks. In the final game of the first round, the Titans took care of business and defeated Skagit Valley 83-43 on a huge second-half surge.

After a competitive first quarter of play, Lane held just a two-point, 14-12 lead. Sophomore forward Sarah Hall had eight points on 4-4 shooting in the first quarter. Rebounding was key for Lane to stay in the game, as the Titans out-rebounded the Cardinals 15-5.

At the end of the first half of play, the Titans had taken a 32-21 lead with Hall leading all scorers by 10 points along with seven rebounds. Freshman Taeli Carrillo followed closely behind with all nine of her points coming from behind the arc. Carrillo had the green light to shoot Thursday evening. The Titans made eight 3-pointers in the game, and Carrillo was responsible for seven of those eight makes.

The Titans scored 31 points in the third quarter, which also featured Skagit Valley Head Coach Steve Epperson getting thrown out of the game for receiving his second technical foul of the game. As Skagit Valley’s frustrations continued, the Titans poured it on and outscored the Cardinals 51-22 in the second half, and advanced to the Elite Eight with a commanding 83-43 victory.

Their win against Skagit Valley set up a matchup against #1 seed Walla Walla Warriors the next day. The Warriors came into the Elite Eight fresh off a 41-point win against Highline. In arguably their biggest game of the season, the Titans came out of the gates on a 9-4 scoring run, but the Warriors fought their way back into the game and took a 27-21 lead going into the second quarter.

Walla Walla’s Teresa Acock seemed to be the go-to scorer for the Warriors, scoring 17 first-half points while Hall led the Titan-scoring charge with 12 at halftime. At the half, Walla Walla was up by just six points with a trip to the NWAC Final Four on the line.

Lane managed to keep up in the third quarter, but Walla Walla front court duo of Cierra Jo McKeown and Acock combined for 48 points and 12 3-pointers in an 85-62 victory. McKeown made four of five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to push the Warriors into the Final Four.  

Hall finished with 18 points and three rebounds while point guard Amber Lease recorded eight points, six assists and two steals in her final game as a Lane Titan. Sierra Carrier scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the losing effort.