PENDLETON — Trace Tiller came off the bench for 27 points here Saturday, helping Walla Walla Community College take a 98-51 men’s basketball win over Blue Mountain CC.
“He gave us a huge lift off the bench,” WWCC coach Jeff Reinland said. The 6-foot-2 Tiller hit 10-of-13 field goals, including six-for-eight from three-point range.
“It was by far his best game as a Warrior,” Reinland said of Tiller, a sophomore from Burns, Ore. “He kind of picked up where Marcus left off a little bit.”
Marcus McKone, a deadly long-range shooter, blew out his knee in a Jan. 31 overtime road loss to Spokane.
Now 20-6 overall, WWCC is 10-3 and leads the Northwest Athletic Conference East Region, a game ahead of North Idaho and Spokane. The Warriors play Columbia Basin at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Pasco.
Blue Mountain took an early 15-9 lead over the Warriors on Saturday.
“They came out inspired and playing well,” Reinland said of the Timberwolves, who were led by Linton McAllister’s 21 points. “They were executing, getting good looks, and we came out flat.”
In addition to Tiller’s point production for WWCC, Landon Radliff tallied 17 points while teammate Damen Thacker scored 16. Warriors Jared Anderson (11 points) and Kendall Watson (10) rounded out five WWCC players in double figures.
“We did what we had to do to win the game,” Reinland said. “We did a nice job sharing the ball in the second half, but not so well in the first half.”
After 11 first-half turnovers, Reinland spent halftime explaining to his charges the importance of passing rather than trying to beat Blue Mountain’s double-teaming defense with the dribble. WWCC assistant coach Travis Noble helped emphasize the point.
“He gave ‘em an earful at halftime,” Reinland said. “I think it got their attention a little bit.”
With a couple of key putbacks of Warrior misses and tepid three-point shooting, Tiller led the way.
“He got some open threes and was able to knock them down,” Reinland said. “I’m just really happy for him. He’s a good, hard-working kid. And boy, he got it going tonight.”
WWCC 98, Blue Mountain 51
WWCC (98) — Porter 5, Thacker 16, Radliff 17, Watson 10, Albright 2, Tiller 27, Smith 3, Anderson 11, Kitchen 5, Ramos, Engstrom 2. Totals 38-70 5-5 98.
BLUE MOUNTAIN (51) — McAllister 21, Landeros 12, Seme 3, Kaden 6, Hillard 2, Massey 2, Lowe-Ash 5. Totals 16-54 17-28 51.
Halftime — WWCC 43-30. 3-point goals — WWCC 17, BMCC 2. Total fouls — WWCC 20, BMCC 9. Fouled out — none. Technical fouls — none. Rebounds — WWCC 56, BMCC 22. Turnovers — WWCC 16, BMCC 10. Assists — WWCC 15, BMCC 1.