EvCC women fall to Big Bend in NWAC quarterfinals

The Trojans’ highly-successful season ends with an 89-79 loss in the final 8 of the NWAC Tournament.

EVERETT — Before this season started, Everett Community College women’s basketball coach Chet Hovde felt that his team could be one of the best he’s coached during his 40 years at the helm of the Trojans.

With a strong inside game, anchored by returning sophomore Uju Chibuogwu, and a bevy of talented outside shooters, EvCC delivered on Hovde’s hopes. The Trojans went 20-6, finished second in the Northwest Athletic Conference North Region and entered the NWAC Tournament with confidence.

EvCC’s season-ending 89-79 loss to Big Bend Community College in a tournament quarterfinal game Friday at the Walt Price Student Fitness Center in Everett was disappointing to Hovde and the team’s players, for sure, but they tried to remain positive after the contest.

“By the end (of our post-game meeting) we were smiling and laughing, talking about the times we had together,” Hovde said. “We talked about how we built a family, and went through the good and bad together, and helped each other out along the way.”

EvCC took a 43-41 halftime lead, but was outscored 28-19 in the third quarter. The Trojans cut the Vikings’ lead to three in the final period, but couldn’t get any closer.

“Our communication (broke down) in the third quarter,” said EvCC sophomore Alexis Biggerstaff, who scored 10 points. “(Big Bend) got a couple of layups and started to go on a run, and we lost our focus and got wide-eyed.”

The Trojans didn’t play their best offensive game Friday, but they had one of the best offenses in the NWAC during the regular season, scoring 78.8 points per game thanks to lofty shooting and assist totals.

EvCC won its first eight games of the season (including a 91-86 victory over Big Bend on Dec. 9), then took command of the NWAC’s North Region by winning its first six region games. The Trojans dropped three contests over a five-game stretch in late January and early February, knocking them out of the region’s top spot.

On Thursday, they demolished Clackamas College 102-77 in a first-round tournament game.

Chibuogwu (21 points, 10 rebounds, five assists Friday) and Biggerstaff were named to the all-North Region first team. Chibuogwu, a Shorecrest graduate, was sixth in the NWAC in scoring (19.3 points per game), seventh in rebounding (10.0) and 18th in assists (3.8), shooting 49 percent from the field. Biggerstaff averaged 15.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per contest.

Sophomore Tyra Lopez was a second-team all-North Region selection after averaging 11.5 points per game and converting 37.5 percent of her 3-point attempts.

Freshman guard Ashley Bierer, a Stanwood graduate, finished second in the NWAC with 5.6 assists per game.

“I’m really proud of my teammates. When we look back on the season, we’ll see that we played really well together,” Biggerstaff said. “It wasn’t just one player — we all contributed, and that’s what made us a scary team. We were close on and off the court, and I think that’s why we were successful.”

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