Courtesy Humboldt Athletics’ Elliot Portillo:

Coming off their third consecutive loss, the Cal Poly Humboldt Lumberjacks will look to gain some positive momentum on the road this weekend with a pair of road matchups down in Southern California against Cal Poly Pomona and Cal State San Bernardino. This weekend also marks the official halfway point of the CCAA regular season, meaning this trip will be a chance for head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson and her squad to gain crucial victories to stay alive in the conference tournament hunt.

Humboldt (6-8, 4-6 CCAA) comes off a weekend that saw them drop two games at home, including a Saturday night heartbreaker to No. 23 Cal State San Marcos (12-2, 9-1 CCAA). Despite this, the coach believes there were many positive takeaways from the way her girls played.
“I was very proud of the fact that I thought they stepped out on Saturday against a very tough opponent,” Bento-Jackson said. “We were consistent in our effort and our intensity.”

The North Coast squad will need that energy and intensity this upcoming weekend, particularly from the dynamic duo of Devon Lewis and Madison Parry. Lewis averaged 13.5 points, 7.5 assists and nine rebounds over the weekend while nearly securing a triple-double in the team’s game against San Marcos. The junior from Vacaville currently ranks first in the CCAA in assists and assists-per-game with 5.4 per-contest. She is also ranked 11th nationally in assists-per-game. She also occupies the top five statistical categories for steals (fifth) and steals-per-game (fourth).

“Devon leads the way on the court for us,” Bento-Jackson said. “The ball’s in her hand a lot. We trust her with the ball and her decision making and we really rely on her to get us going on the offensive end. I also thought Thursday and particularly Saturday were some of her better defensive games as well.”

On the flip-side, Parry has soared in her second season with the Lumberjacks. The sophomore from Newcastle, California currently ranks second in the conference in scoring with just under 17 points-per-game. She also ranks second in blocks and blocks-per-game, fourth in rebounds and third in rebounds-per-game.

“She’s a double-double pretty much every night,” the coach said. “I’m really challenging her right now on the defensive end. We know she’s going to give us the rebounds. We know she puts herself in positions to be a scorer for us as well and now we need to get her consistent on both ends of the floor.”

Cal Poly Pomona (11-3, 8-2 CCAA)

The Broncos currently sit at third in the conference and have won three straight. They are paced by Ally Bates, who averages 15.2 points-per-game and 6.4 rebounds-per-game. She also sits second in the conference in 3-point percentage and third in 3-pointers-per-game. The Broncos will also expect contributions from Kalaya Buggs, who is averaging just over four assists-per-contest and Ciara James, who sits second in the conference in blocked shots.

“They’re just a quality team,” Bento-Jackson said. “Ally Bates is a tough one. Not only is she a scorer, but she’s physical. She’s very tough. She’s certainly not the only player that makes them go. They do have a balance between the inside-outside game. As always we’ve got to be efficient on the defensive end.”

The team’s matchup zone defense will also prove to be a unique challenge for Bento-Jackson’s young squad.

“One thing Pomona is known for is they play a little bit different defensively,” the coach added. “They play matchup zone. With so many new players that we have that have never faced that type of defense before, we’ve been talking about that a lot in practice. I just want us to be loose and really get the best shot selection we can get.”

Tip-off for Thursday’s game is set for 5:30 p.m. at Kellogg Arena in Pomona.

Cal State San Bernardino (8-8, 3-7 CCAA)

The Coyotes come into Saturday’s matchup having split their previous weekend of games against Stanislaus and Chico State. San Bernardino will look to their top scorer, Destiny Jackson, who has been averaging just under 12 points-per-contest.

Tip-off for that game is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan.21 at Coussoulis Arena in San Bernardino.

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