Bear Cubs stomp Golden Eagles; advance to third round of playoffs

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Will Mathis

Sophomore guard Jenna Dunbar attempts a free throw in a game against West Hills College Lemoore.

Anthony Sosa, Sports Editor

Sophomore guard Jenna Dunbar electrified the Bear Cubs’ fans with a 24-point performance in a blowout 74-59 victory over the West Hills College Lemoore Golden Eagles in the second round of the 2016 California Community College Athletic Association’s Regional Championships Feb. 27 at Haehl Pavillion.

The Bear Cubs started the game strong with two 3-pointers by guards Kerianne Noonan and Brooke Santander. Along with Dunbar, they combined to make seven 3-pointers.

“It was a whole team performance,” Dunbar said.

Deadlocked at 30 with around five minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Bear Cubs sparked a 10-0 run, which propelled them to a 42-32 lead at the half.

Dunbar heated up in the second half and scored 14 points as the Bears Cubs pulled away from the Golden Eagles.

“When she’s [Dunbar] on, it gives everyone else confidence,” said head coach Lacey Campbell. “It kind of gives everyone else breathing room, because everyone’s focused on her so they get that extra little step.”

Niambi Saint Louis and Santander also contributed largely in the victory. Both players reached double figures in points. Saint Louis finished with 14 and Santander put up 12.

Campbell used the Bear Cubs large lead as an opportunity to get some of the bench involved. The lead also allowed Noonan, who injured her knee in the Bear Cubs’ previous game, to rest for most of the second half.

“We had a team plan going in. We wanted to attack them offensively and defensively,” Campbell said. “This team, when they work together, are tough to stop.”

The Bear Cubs’ victory advances them to the third round of the CCCAA Regional Championships. They’ll travel to Rocklin and face the third-seeded Sierra College Wolverines March 2.

The Wolverines finished the season first in the Big 8 Conference and defeated the Bear Cubs 71-56 Feb. 19.

“Sierra’s a deep team. We’re going to need contribution from everybody,” Campbell said. “We don’t need a 30-point scorer.”

Coach Campbell emphasized how much of an impact losing Noonan was in the final result of the previous game against the Wolverines.

“Last time we played them [Sierra], Kerianne got hurt. That took us out of our rhythm and into a different mindset,” Campbell said. “Now that we’re ready to go I think we’re up for the challenge.”

With revenge on their minds, the sixth-seeded Bear Cubs look to upset the Wolverines.

“This game we know what more to expect,” Dunbar said. “We’re so ready. Beating them at their place is even better than beating them at home.”