Big Bend broke down Walla Walla’s defense by shooting 54 percent from the field Saturday afternoon in the Dietrich Dome and defeated the Warriors 99-88 in a Northwest Athletic Conference Eastern Region men’s basketball game.
The Vikings shot 36-for-67 from the floor, nearly every one of their makes taken at or near the rim, as they remained undefeated in the region at 6-0 and raised their season record to 16-8.
The Warriors, who shot themselves back into the game after falling behind by 24 points five minutes into the second half, lost for the third straight game. WWCC fell to 1-4 in the East and 7-13 overall.
“They are just more athletic than we are,” WWCC coach Jeff Reinland said in explaining Big Bend’s ability to score from close range. “I know it makes it look like we were tired, but their foot speed is just a lot better and it’s hard to stop them going to the basket.
“I guess we could have zoned them, but they’re also the second-best 3-point shooting team in the NWAC. It was a matter of playing Russian Roulette.”
The Warriors trailed 50-38 at halftime.
WWCC freshman post Roman McKnight, who spent most of the first half on the bench with three fouls, got the first bucket of the second half on a rebound putback. But Big Bend responded with 14 unanswered points and led 64-40 with 15:03 on the clock.
On the Warriors’ next possession, sophomore reserve guard Jarid Downey drained a 3-point basket and launched a personal WWCC comeback that would shave 16 points off the Vikings’ lead before it was all said and done.
Downey’s seventh 3-pointer of the second half pulled Walla Walla within 94-86 with 1:17 to play. But the visitors converted 3-of-4 free throws and sophomore guard Keshawn Liggins sealed Big Bend’s victory with — what else? — a layin with 15.4 seconds left.
Dalton Thompson’s basket accounted for WWCC’s final two points just before the final buzzer sounded.
Downey finished with 21 points, a career high, to lead four Warriors in double figures. McKnight accounted for 14 points in just over 12 minutes on the floor, Thompson scored 11 and Darrian Caffaro-Briggs, another WWCC backup, finished with 10.
Liggins led the way for Big Bend with 20 points. Ryker Pierce followed with 19, Jai Jai Ely tallied 17, Mogga Lado 14 and Riley Bruneel 11. A sixth Viking, Wyatt Johnson, narrowly missed double figures with nine points.
The Warriors shot 42 percent from the field overall and hit on 15-of-41 3-pointers, good for 47 percent. Big Bend attempted just 13 treys in the game and made three on a night when they did their business in the paint.
The Warriors face two road games this coming week, traveling to Blue Mountain Wednesday and Columbia Basin Saturday.
Article by Jim Buchan of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin