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Eastern Oregon University’s Brittney Newcomb puts up a runner during a recent game. The senior transfer from Weber State University is third in the NAIA Division II in scoring this season. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
Newcomb’s lifelong passion for basketball helps EOU win games
Brittney Newcomb’s basketball life kind of plays out like Woody Harrelson in “White Men Can’t Jump”, but instead — obviously — she’s a woman.
Like Harrelson’s character, Newcomb walks into unsuspecting gyms throughout the summer to hone her craft. The men playing in the gyms think it’s just another woman trying to play. Until they see she can freeze them with her sure-handed dribbling, or when they back off, shoot it right over the top.
“I do enjoy doing that,” Newcomb said.
Newcomb got her start at a young age. She played one-on-one in the driveway against her sister Chelsey. The two siblings would play over and over again.
Newcomb isn’t bashful to say who got the better end of those meetings.
“I always got her,” Newcomb said. “It’s my competitiveness that has always driven me.”
Thankfully fans of Eastern Oregon University can see Newcomb in a more structured environment.
The senior transferred from Weber State, an NCAA Division I school, to come play for the Mountaineers.
“I wanted to finish out my last year somewhere that I could have fun,” Newcomb said. “This is a program that I can win games in with a coach and team that I enjoy playing with.”
The Medford graduate started her college career at Yakima Valley Community College, where she played in back-to-back National Championship games. Her team won the title her sophomore season in 2011, and was selected to the all-tournament first team both seasons. Newcomb averaged 15.5 points per game in her final season at YVCC.
At Weber State, Newcomb appeared in 20 games, starting four, while averaging 6.2 points per game.
Not only is she having fun, but Newcomb and her teammates are supplying plenty of fun to the fans at Quinn Coliseum too.
The 5-foot-7 guard, who models her game after Dwyane Wade, is burning down the nets. However, Newcomb is a much better shooter from behind the arc than Miami’s guard. Newcomb is third NAIA Division II in scoring average, with an average of 24 points per game. She’s also third in the nation in 3-point field goals made this season. Newcomb isn’t afraid to let it fly. During Friday’s 102-78 win against No. 17 Southern Oregon University, Newcomb did just that. She made 6-of-13 from behind the arc, it was one off of her season high seven 3-point baskets against Walla Walla University earlier this season. She went 7-of-9 in that win.
But it’s not just the ability to shoot the ball that Mountaineers head coach Anji Weissenfluh loves.
“She’s a leader on the court,” Weissenfluh said. “Brittney can do so many other things than just shoot the ball. Her ability to create shots for her teammates is amazing. And, she can also play very good defense.”
Still, it’s the points that jump off the page. Newcomb has lead the Mountaineers in scoring in 12-of-13 games played. She missed the first four games of the season waiting for the NAIA to approve her eligibility. Her season-high came against Evergreen University in the Cascade Collegiate Conference opener, scoring 32 points.
When her shot isn’t falling from behind the arc, which is seldom, Newcomb has the ability to drive to the basket. All the shots don’t go down, but she doesn’t shy away from contact. Her ability at the free-throw line is just as dangerous. Saturday’s game against the Oregon Institute of Technology is a perfect example. Newcomb.She went 1-of-6 from behind the arc, but converted 16-of-16 attempts from the charity stripe.
Playing along side point guard Nicole Redd has been the perfect compliment to her game.
“We both like to run,” Newcomb said. “Nicole is a great shooter and passer too. She has the ability to get us the ball right where we can take it up for the shot.”
The duo has been spectacular so far, leading the Mountaineers to a 12-4 overall record. EOU is leading the CCC with a 4-0 record this season.