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NWAC Women's Final Four: Powell sets scoring record as Riverhawks cruise to title game 103-70

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Umpqua 103, Bellevue 70 stats

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Dajanay Powell continued to burn the nets in the 2018 Women’s NWAC Basketball Tournament by pouring in an NWAC Tournament single-game scoring record of 47 points as No. 1-ranked Umpqua advanced to the championship game with a 103-70 win over Bellevue.

Umpqua, the South Region’s top seed, is now 31-1 and will play the winner of Walla Walla-Big Bend semifinal Sunday. Bellevue, the top seed in the North Region, finished its season with a record of 22-9.

Powell, who scored 26 against Peninsula in the first round and tied a single-game tournament record with 46 against Columbia Basin in the quarterfinals, scored Umpqua’s first 10 points and 14 of the team’s first 15. She now has scored 119 points in the tournament, which is four shy of the tournament record of 123 points held by Blue Mountain’s Mar’Shay Moore set in 2015.

Bellevue made five 3-point field goals in the first half and hung with the RiverHawks, trailing only 43-42 at half. Powell had 21 points at halftime, but Bellevue’s Brenda Akoto had 17.

But in the third quarter, Powell got free for 12 points and the River Hawks outscored Bellevue 28-18. She was aided in the scoring department in the quarter by Jordan Stotler with eight points and Bria Thames with five. Umpqua led 71-55 in the final minute before the Bulldogs closed out the quarter with a 3-pointer by Sierra Cole and a 15-foot buzzer-beater by Molly Dixon to make it 71-60.

But Umpqua coach Dave Stricklin pointed to his team’s defense as the turning point in the game. After giving up 42 points in the first half, the River Hawks held the Bulldogs to just 28 in the second half.

“We said at halftime we’ve scored enough points to win but we gave up in the 40s,” Stricklin said. “And that’s too much to give up so we changed the defense and we did a better job denying the ball at the high post. We gave up 42 in the first half and 28 in the second so the defense was the difference in the second half.” Offensively, the River Hawks scored 60 points in the second half.

Jordan Stotler added 24 points for Umpqua and Bria Thames chipped in 15. Umpqua shot 56.2 percent from the field, and Stricklin was not shocked by his team’s scoring balance.

“(Powell) is the leading scorer now but up until about two weeks ago we had four players averaging between 16 and 18 points,” Stricklin said. “It just so happens in the tournament teams have had a hard time matching up with her and she’s scored a lot more than she normally does.”

Bellevue was led by the 22 points of Brenda Akoto. Sierra Cole added 15, Kassin Hopkins 11 and Molly Dixon 11.

Powell and Thames were excited that the River Hawks made it to the title game after falling short last year, losing in the semifinals to eventual champion Spokane.

“It’s what we’ve been working for all season, from the end of last season to now,” Thames said. “We’ve put a lot of hard work in to getting to the championship, and I’m really proud of my team for accomplishing that goal.”

“I’m really excited,” Powell said. “The big thing is just making sure we stay positive.”

Said Stricklin: “We feel happy because we feel like we have the monkey off our back. We were all freshmen last year and we weren’t mentally prepared for that game (against Spokane). We wanted to get back here and win that (semifinal) game.”

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