With hundreds of people in the stands, the UCC Riverhawks fell just short in a game that was

UCC guard Ethan Betts attempts to get the Riverhawks back in the game by driving hard to the basket.

competitive for the entirety of the match-up, and the Clark Penguins claimed the 80-73 victory Wednesday, Feb. 23 in Roseburg, Oregon.

The Penguins came into the nest ready to play, forcing the Riverhawks into an early first half deficit. While UCC had difficulty taking care of the basketball and rebounding, the Riverhawks managed to keep it close. UCC worked for every basket they scored, but Clark took the 44-36 advantage into halftime.

“We really just didn’t do the little things like looking after the basketball and rebounding,” UCC guard Ethan Betts said. “Those really were the key factors to us not being successful.”

UCC came out with a little more energy in the second half and remained persistent. The men were down 12 points early in, but then fought back, cutting Clark’s lead to just three points, 53-50, with 13 minutes and 31 seconds remaining in the game. The Riverhawks kept chipping away at Clark’s lead and brought the score to within three several different times.

From this point on, Clark and UCC traded baskets back and forth the rest of the game. The Riverhawks again tightened up the score, 68-65 in Clark’s favor but with only four minutes and 30 seconds remaining, Clark hit a tough 3-point shot and continued to separate themselves just enough to counter UCC’s resiliency.

Just over two minutes later, UCC came within three once more, 71-68 Clark’s advantage. The Riverhawk men were in the penalty and were forced to send Clark to the free throw line for bonus shots. Clark missed the first free throw, but the Penguins grabbed the offensive rebound off the missed shot then UCC was forced to commit another foul to stop the clock. UCC missed a key opportunity to grab the board and get back in the game, and instead sent Clark back to the line, increasing their lead 72-68 after making one of two free throws.

UCC had good looks at the basket in the final minute but failed to make shots down the stretch. The Riverhawks had to keep fouling Clark to conserve time on the clock and hope that the Penguins would miss some free throws to stay in the game. UCC never brought the score back within four points due to Clark’s clutch free throw shooting to close out the game and the Penguins sealed the victory 80-73.

“Turnovers and second-chance opportunities from offensive rebounds were the things that hurt us in the end,” head coach Daniel Leeworthy said.

The Riverhawks were out rebounded 44-35 in the game; 19 of Clark’s 44 rebounds came off the offensive glass which led to the Penguins scoring 17 second-chance points. UCC also committed 18 total turnovers throughout the game.

Although UCC suffered a tough loss against Clark, the Riverhawks took control of their own destiny and UCC earned a share of the Southern Region championship Saturday, Feb. 25 by defeating the Clackamas Cougars 99-96 in Oregon City. UCC Forward Jacob Danhoff led the team to victory by scoring 27 total points and grabbing nine total rebounds.

The Riverhawks will play the Chemeketa Storm on Wednesday, March 1 at home for a chance to claim the Southern Region championship all for themselves. UCC has already punched their ticket into the Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament and tournament play will begin Thursday, March 9 at the Walt Price Student Fitness Center located at 2206 Tower Street in Everett, Washington.