Tori Breshers led the Pioneers with 20 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.
The Cal State East Bay women's basketball team defeated Humboldt State 57-51 on Tuesday in the first ever California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) postseason tournament game at Pioneer Gym.
It's the 12th straight win for the Pioneers, continuing their historic season. The team already captured a share of the CCAA regular season championship with a record of 18-2 and will look to add the program's first tournament title to that resume. They advance to the semifinal round on Friday evening and will take on fellow regular season co-champion UC San Diego, which defeated Cal Poly Pomona in its first round matchup.
On a frustrating night offensively, the Pioneers relied on their defense, which entered the contest ranked No. 3 in the nation allowing 52.4 points per game. They held Humboldt under 35 percent shooting for the game, forced 18 turnovers, and finished with a 37-31 rebounding edge.
"I thought Humboldt brought intensity, focus, and a playoff mentality," said head coach Suzy Barcomb. "We were back on our heels throughout the entire first half and had quite a few unforced turnovers and ill-advised shots. Our defense gave us some critical stops and some breathing room down the stretch."
The first half was a back-and-forth affair, as the Jacks gave East Bay problems due to their size in the frontcourt. The Pioneers looked to be taking control with a run that put them up 24-19 late in the second quarter, but HSU closed the half on a 7-0 run of its own to take a 26-24 lead into the break.
The score remained tight throughout the third quarter, as CSUEB's defense held the Jacks to just seven points in the period. However, the Pioneers continued to struggle to shoot from the outside, and they clung to a 37-33 advantage heading into the fourth.
Solid three-point shooting by the Jacks kept East Bay from pulling away, but the Pioneers made enough baskets down the stretch to secure a six-point win. Ashleigh Anderson had one of the biggest shots of the night after HSU hit a three to cut the deficit to 44-41 with 3:25 left. She buried a long triple from the top of the key at the end of the shot clock to put CSUEB back up six and energize the Pioneer crowd.
Tori Breshers led the Pioneers with 20 points, nine rebounds, and four blocks in 36 minutes, going 7-for-17 from the field.
"Tori carried the load tonight in terms of scoring," Barcomb noted. "She's been down this road before, and I thought she played with a purpose."
Fellow senior Madison Craig was also huge for the Pioneers, scoring 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting with some strong finishes around the rim.
The Pioneers were just 3-for-13 from long distance in the game. Senior sharpshooter Laci Effenberger had a difficult night, going 1-for-6 from deep, but she did manage to extend her streak to 44 straight games with a three-point field goal. The Alaska native finished with six points, five rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Junior post player Remy Puou turned in an impactful performance, totaling eight points, seven rebounds, and three blocks.
With an overall record of 25-4, the Pioneers will next take on the UC San Diego Tritons, ranked 20th nationally, in the second round of the CCAA Tournament at Stockton Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. on Friday. The semifinals will be preceded by the annual CCAA championship banquet on Thursday evening, where the 2015-16 All-CCAA teams and individual award winners will be announced.