Originally Published: January 28, 2018 6:05 a.m.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Correction, the UC-Merced contest is at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, in Prescott.
The Embry-Riddle women’s basketball team extended its winning streak to seven games in Cal-Pac Conference play Saturday night, staying atop the standings with a 67-47 victory over struggling Pacific Union College in Angwin, California.
The Eagles’ record improved to 18-3 overall and 8-1 in conference. They remained a half-game ahead of second-place UC Merced (15-7, 7-1), which defeated Cal Maritime, 67-61, Saturday in Vallejo, California.
Both Embry-Riddle and UC Merced were among those teams receiving votes in the latest NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll released on Jan. 23. The Eagles began the season on an 11-game winning streak, lost three of their next four, and are now rolling again.
Pacific Union fell to 2-13 and 1-8. The Pioneers sit at the bottom of the Cal-Pac standings with Cal Maritime (5-18, 0-8).
ERAU, which routed Pacific Union, 115-60, Jan. 13 in Prescott, swept the season series from the Pioneers.
On Saturday, the Eagles led 36-8 at intermission and didn’t really let up in the second half, carrying a 53-24 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Guard Danae Ruiz led Embry-Riddle offensively with 18 points on 5 of 10 shooting, including 3 of-7 from 3-point range. The Eagles finished with nine 3-pointers. Ruiz also went 5 for 6 from the free-throw line. The Eagles were 16 of 22 at the charity stripe, good for 73 percent. Katana Martina followed with 10 points and three rebounds for the visitors.
Despite being outrebounded 37-28, Embry-Riddle recorded 12 steals and 12 assists, and scored 24 of its 67 points off of 25 Pacific Union turnovers.
Embry-Riddle returns to Prescott to play a pair of Cal-Pac contests versus Cal Maritime at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, and UC Merced at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, for the Eagles’ regular-season home finale at the ERAU Activity Center. UC Merced beat Embry-Riddle, 66-57, in their first meeting Jan. 4 in California.
Whichever team wins Saturday would likely have the inside track to capture the Cal-Pac regular-season title. The league’s first-place squad enters the Cal-Pac Tournament in Vallejo as the No. 1 seed and faces the No. 4 seed in the tournament’s semifinals on Sunday, Feb. 25. The Nos. 2 and 3 seeds battle in the other semi.
Semifinal winners play on Tuesday, Feb. 27, for the conference tournament championship. The Cal-Pac tournament champion earns an automatic bid into the NAIA National tournament March 7-13 in Sioux City, Iowa.
As for Pacific Union, it visits La Sierra of California at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.