EVERETT — One of the big reasons for the Everett Community College women’s basketball team’s success this season is its outside shooting. The Trojans made eight 3-pointers per game during the regular season, fifth-best in the Northwest Athletic Conference, and 33.6 percent of their 3-point attempts, second in the NWAC.
A byproduct of EvCC’s accurate shooting is increased opportunities inside for sophomore post Uju Chibuogwu, who is one of the best all-around players in the conference. And it goes both ways, too — Chibuogwu’s fine play down low has opened up space on the outside for the Trojans’ cadre of shooters.
“We have naturally gifted 3-point shooters,” said EvCC coach Chet Hovde. “We’re very happy with the outside shot. We’re shooting well across the board. When we hit the open shot, that opens it up for Uju to do her thing, and when teams collapse on Uju, (our shooters) are left alone, and that means trouble (for the opposition).”
The Trojans, who went 20-6 in the regular season and finished in second place in the NWAC’s North Region, made 14 3-pointers Thursday in their 102-77 win over Clackamas in a first-round NWAC Tournament game at Walt Price Student Fitness Center on the EvCC campus.
The Trojans will play Big Bend on Friday in a quarterfinal contest.
Three EvCC players shot at least 35 percent from the 3-point line during the regular season — freshman Aloha Salem and sophomores Tyra Lopez and Alexis Biggerstaff, both all-NWAC North Region selections.
“Every day in practice we do a lot of shooting,” said Lopez, who made three 3-pointers Thursday en route to 15 points. “Girls come in early to shoot, and we have 3-point competitions, which are fun because everyone is competitive. When we start hitting them (in a game), it takes the stress off our shoulders. When a couple go in, our confidence goes up, and we just keep going. We have a lot of players that (can shoot). If you stop one player, someone else is going to step up. It’s just hard for teams to guard us.”
Freshman Nakiya Edwards hit five 3s and scored 15 points. Biggerstaff led the Trojans with 20 points. Chibuogwu, a Shorecrest graduate and first-team all-North Region selection, tallied 18 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists; Salem scored 16 points; and Everett graduate Sydney Taggart recorded 12 points.
“We came into this tournament with a chip on our shoulder because we lost in the first round last year and missed out on the (North Region’s) No. 1 seed this year,” Lopez said. “We did well at the start of the season, but toward the end we weren’t playing our best; we were tired, and we were dealing with some injuries. Those losses could end up being the best thing that happened to us; they gave us motivation and showed us what we needed to work on.
“We want to make a statement (in the tournament). We know what we’re capable of doing.”