Longtime coach Carl Howell had one simple message for his Tacoma CC Titans as they opened the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges men’s championship basketball tournament in the dreaded 8 a.m. game Saturday.
“Just rally for one day,” Howell said. “You should be able to play at 8 o’clock for one game.”
With sophomores Mark McLaughlin and Nate Walker battling foul trouble, TCC turned to others down the stretch as the fourth-ranked Titans emerged with an 80-73 victory over Walla Walla in Kennewick.
For the ninth consecutive time at the NWAACC tournament, the Titans advance to the quarterfinals, and will play No. 6 Mount Hood (22-7) at 2 p.m. today.
Walker led TCC (23-5) with 23 points on 10-for-15 shooting, and added 11 rebounds. McLaughlin added 16 – including 12 of the team’s 14 points during a stretch when the Titans broke out to a big first-half lead.
But Walla Walla (19-9) rallied behind nine 3-pointers, and eventually tied the game with eight minutes remaining, 61-61.
Spurred by back-to-back 3-points by Demetrius Smith and Dominique Williams, the Titans responded with a 10-0 run over the next two minutes to grab a 71-61 advantage with 5:46 to go.
Spokane 76, South Puget Sound 71: Black Hills graduate Anye Turner tallied 31 points before fouling out with 2:49 to go, and the Clippers had to big opportunities in the final minute to steal a win, but came up empty against the fourth-ranked Sasquatch.
The Clippers thought they had the lead when Scotty Ewing drove in the lane, drew contact and made the 8-foot runner with 35 seconds to go. But the Clippers guard was called for a charge.
Columbia Basin 75, Tacoma 63: A 8-0 run midway through the first half gave the top-ranked Hawks all the breathing room they needed in defeating the Titans.
Jennifer Noon’s free throw capped the spurt, giving Columbia Basin a 26-13 lead.
Claire Swayze led the Titans (12-14) with 16 points. Jasmine Scott and Angelina Wagar-Sanchez chipped in with 14.
Walla Walla 61, Pierce 46: A 14-4 run late in the first half put No. 3 Walla Walla up 26-15 with just more than two minutes to go in the first half to gain control of its first-round game over the Raiders (17-10).
Taylor Riley led Pierce with 14 points.