Umpqua ready for tourney run again

The RiverHawks are unbeaten and largely untested
By Cliff Pfenning
Miriam Yaro of Sugarland, Tex., is one of Umpqua' team leaders.
Associated Press photo.

Maybe this is the year the Umpqua RiverHawks get back on top.

Twenty years after the school's last title, the women's basketball team enters the final two weekends of the season unbeaten and with only a handful of games that have ended with wins of fewer than 10 points. It should figure that way, though, after the team played to runner-up finishes in the 2018 and '19 Northwest Athletic Conference tournaments.

Umpqua is ranked No. 1 this season, and just came off its toughest outing of the season - an 84-81 win over Mt. Hood in Gresham. That was three days after a 70-62 win over visiting Linn-Benton of Albany. Prior to that, though, the team won all but two games by at least 13 points (one was 70-65 over Mt. Hood on a neutral court, Dec. 29). 

RiverHawks coach Dave Stricklin guided the program to tournament titles in 1997 and 2000, but the program fell one win short the past two seasons. With a solid returning crew of sophomores led by 5-foot-11 forward Darian Mitchell, Umpqua is dazzling recruiters.