Positive steps are being made in the Heidi Collier coaching era for the Tacoma Community College women’s basketball program.
The Titans have made back-to-back NWAACC tournament appearances. They’ve been playing the elite opponents tougher, and beating up on lower-level teams on a more consistent basis.
Which is what made TCC’s matchup Saturday all the more intriguing, facing divisional contender Clark College, guided by one of the most successful high school coaches in state history in Al Aldridge, formerly of Prairie High School near Vancouver (710 wins, six state titles in 32 seasons).
But the Penguins ran off 10 points in just more than a minute to start the game, and went on to stun TCC, 71-50.
Guard Dominique Johnson led Clark (7-9 overall, 5-1 league) with 28 points – 15 coming in the first half when the Penguins built a 15-point advantage. Nicolette Bond added 20.
The Titans (8-6, 4-2), who were playing to stay in second place behind Centralia College, got a career-high six 3-pointers and 20 points from guard Kaitlyn Sauders. But their defense did little to disrupt anything Clark ran.
“We are just OK right now beating the teams we should,” said Collier, visibly disgusted by her team’s effort. “It is so much mental. We just think if we show up, we are going to win – and we forget we have to play hard for 40 minutes.”
TCC came out hot to start the second half, getting three of Sauders’ 3-pointers in the first 61/2 minutes. But the Titans could not cut into the deficit because the Penguins scored on 12 out of 14 possessions during that same span.
“It really makes you think, ‘Were we actually ready for this game? What is going on?’ And finally when we get into some sort of gear, we fell apart again,” Sauders said.
“Hey, we can’t lose by 20 on our homecourt. That is not OK, and it should not be OK with you, should not be OK with me, or OK with anyone.”
At Tacoma CC 59, Clark 56: Darius Johnson-Wilson scored 13 points, and the No. 8 Titans (12-5, 5-1) eked out an NWAACC West victory despite not scoring a field goal in the final 5:19.
After Clark’s Sean Price made a layup to cut it to 58-56 with eight seconds to go, the Penguins got a steal and set up a potential game-winning shot – but Sam Jurgenson’s corner 3-point attempt hit the rim short.
TCC’s Jibreel Stevens made one free throw with 1.2 seconds to go, and Clark’s 50-foot heave at the buzzer was wide left.
“It is good to win a game shooting in the 30s (percent) and scoring in the 50s, because everyone knows we want to play fast,” TCC coach Carl Howell said.
At George Fox 66, PLU 61: Cameron Schilling scored 19 points, but his potential game-tying 3-point attempt was blocked from behind, and the Bruins escaped with a home win at Wheeler Sports Center.
At Pacific 89, UPS 74: Danny Brakebush led five Boxers in double figures with 23 points, and Pacific led most of the game in winning at home.
The Loggers led for the first 4:47 – until Daniel Zitani’s jump shot gave the Boxers the lead for good.
At George Fox 59, Pacific Lutheran 34: Even without 6-foot-5 standout Hannah Munger, the Bruins’ defense prevailed, holding the Lutes to 26-percent shooting in notching a NWC victory in Newberg, Ore.
At Pacific 72, Puget Sound 66 (OT): Emily Sheldon sent the game into overtime for the Loggers with a last-second 3-pointer in regulation, but the Boxers seized control after that to win in Forest Grove, Ore.
Sheldon led UPS with 15 points. Enumclaw High graduate Heather Hitch scored 26 points for the Boxers.