Cal State East Bay Women's Basketball Wins CCAA Championship
The Pioneers qualify for NCAA Division II West Regionals for the second straight year
The 2016-17 Cal State East Bay women's basketball team was crowned champion of the California Collegiate Athletic Association tournament for the second year in a row after defeating top-seeded UC San Diego 62-53 in the title game at Cal State San Marcos on Saturday evening.
The Pioneers (22-8) earned the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division II West Regionals and will have a chance to compete for the national championship for the second straight season after a 28-year absence from the tournament. They received the No. 6 seed and will take on third-seeded Western Washington in the first round of the tournament on Friday, March 10. The Pioneers and No. 17 ranked Vikings (25-5) will play the first game of the quarterfinals, with tip-off scheduled for 1 p.m. PST at the Alaska Airlines Center.
The eight-team Regional will be hosted by Alaska Anchorage, the No. 2 ranked team in the nation and Great Northwest Conference champions. The winner advances to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in Columbus, Ohio.
East Bay will take a nine-game winning streak into next week’s regional. The Pioneers have won 14 of their last 15 games and will enter the tournament as one of the nation’s hottest teams.
Player of the Year Shomari Harris was named the CCAA Tournament’s Most Valuable Player after leading all scorers with 24 points in the championship game. She was named to the All-Tournament team along with senior First Team All-CCAA honoree Remy Puou and freshman Second Team All-CCAA pick Morgan Greene.
Puou reached double figures in scoring, with seven rebounds and three blocks. Greene posted double-digits for the eighth straight contest, pulling in a game-high of 13 rebounds.
Cal State East Bay got off to an impressive start and led the Tritons 24-19 after Bri Guillory banked home a long three-pointer to beat the first-quarter buzzer. UC San Diego clawed back in a low-scoring second quarter, and the Pioneers won a narrow 31-29 lead into halftime.
As they have continually done over the latter half of the season, the Pioneers showed poise and discipline on both sides of the ball to keep their lead in the final minutes.
Though Cal State East Bay won its second straight CCAA tournament title, the road to the championship was much different this time. Head coach Shanele Stires was hired in October to coach a team entirely made up of student-athletes she didn't recruit. The Pioneers graduated six of their seven best players from 2015-16, with Puou the only returning starter. This year’s squad starts three freshmen, and they began the year 5-6 before winning 17 of their next 19 games.
As a program, CSUEB has a 34-6 record in CCAA regular season games over the last two years, with a perfect 6-0 record in the CCAA Tournament.
For more Cal State East Bay athletics news, scores, schedules and live coverage, visit the athletics website.