Walla Walla picked a good night to snap out of its shooting slump.
Sophomore sharpshooter Payton Radliff knocked down three consecutive 3-point baskets, scored 11 points in the first five minutes of the game and ignited the Warriors to a convincing 93-63 victory over Treasure Valley late Saturday afternoon in the Dietrich Dome.
The wire-to-wire victory snapped a four-game WWCC losing streak and tipped off the Warriors Northwest Athletic Conference East Region campaign on a positive note.
“That’s absolutely by far our best shooting night of the season,” said WWCC coach Jeff Reinland, who had lamented his team’s shoddy shooting in recent games that led to a 6-8 preseason record.
“And I thought this was one of our best defensive efforts as well,” Reinland added. “Overall I thought we played pretty well, but one day at a time.”
Walla Walla, which went into the game ranked 26th in the 33-school NWAC in field-goal shooting, made 35-of-69 field goals overall, 51 percent, and the Warriors sank an even 50 percent from behind the 3-point line (20-40). Defensively, WWCC limited the Chukars to 33 percent shooting from the field (23-for-70), and the visitors connected on just 2-of-14 3-pointers (14 percent).
Freshman Dalton Thompson led the hot-shooting Warriors with 28 points, an output that featured an 8-for-14 night from downtown and 9-for-16 shooting overall. Matt Schutt was 6-for-10 from 3-point distance for all 18 of his points and Radliff finished 4-for-7 from behind the arc and tallied 14 points to go with eight assists.
Devon Kohn was WWCC’s answer in the paint against a much taller Treasure Valley team, maneuvering for 16 points on 8-for-16 shooting.
“That was a big team,” Reinland said of the Chukars, who started 6-foot-10 Jarek Schetzle in the post and brought 6-8 widebody Bruni Braxton off the bench. “I don’t think we are going to see a bigger team.”
Treasure Valley outrebounded Walla Walla 53-44, led by Shareef Ingram’s 11 boards. Ingram, a 6-6 forward, also scored 14 points.
Kohn, WWCC’s 6-3 post, and the 6-4 Thompson collected six rebounds each for the Warriors.
Daryl Robertson, a 6-0 freshman guard, led Treasure Valley with 17 points and Bruni was a third Chukar in double figures with 10 points.
“I thought we would have a little difficulty matching up with Robertson’s quickness,” Reinland said. “But we spread them out and defended him pretty well.”
Radliff’s hot shooting at the outset jump-started the Warriors to a 10-0 lead and Treasure Valley never got closer than nine points the rest of the way. Walla Walla led 48-27 at halftime and by as many as 33 points, 91-58, on a 3-point basket by Jarid Downey with 1:11 remaining in the game.
The Warriors, hoping to build on Saturday night’s success, travel to Yakima Wednesday for an East Region counter and then entertain Wenatchee on Saturday.