At nearly 86 points per game, the Pierce College men are the highest-scoring basketball squad in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges West Division.
But you wouldn’t know it from watching the first eight minutes of their game Saturday. They could not buy a basket.
But when the Raiders heated up – and, in particular, guard Christopher Parker – it meant bad news for visiting Tacoma CC.
Parker, a 6-foot-2 guard out of Eagle River, Alaska, set a school single-game record with nine 3-pointers, and Pierce pulled away for a 79-69 victory in Lakewood.
The previous mark was eight, set by Lenny Rogers during the 1993-94 season. Parker finished with a career-high 33 points on 10-of-17 shooting, making nine of his 14 3-point attempts.
“They kept on telling me to shoot the ball,” Parker said, “and I felt confident.”
Not many on the Pierce roster were likely feeling all that confident at the state. The Raiders missed their first five shots and turned the ball over four times as the Titans broke out to an early 9-3 lead.
After Tony Chynoweth’s corner 3-pointer gave TCC (7-11, 2-6 NWAACC West) an 18-11 lead with 6:04 to go in the first half, Parker blew up.
The first 3-pointer came from the left corner 19 seconds later. And on Pierce’s next trip, he hit another one from the same spot on the floor.
“When I hit the second 3 in the corner, that was when I started feeling it,” Parker said. “Then I pulled the step-back (3-pointer), and that is when I was really feeling it. I felt they didn’t respect my shot – they just left me open.”
In the second half, Parker hit six 3-pointers, each time taking a step back farther than the previous one.
But it wasn’t until the six-minute mark that the Raiders (13-5, 6-2) finally grabbed control. After Anthony Harper’s bank shot for TCC cut it to 66-60, Pierce scored the next two buckets on putbacks – from Paul Loranger and Devin Matthews.
TCC shot 60.9 percent (14-of-23) in the second half – but Pierce was better at 63.3 (19-of-30).
“Defensively, it is unacceptable for a Tacoma team to give up 63 percent shooting in a half,” TCC coach Jesse Brown said. “In the first half, our scheme worked. And in the second half, they found a way – and (Parker) got hot.”
At Pacific Lutheran 76, Willamette 56: Guard Brandon Lester scored 22 points, hitting six 3-pointers – half coming in the first 91/2 minutes – and the Lutes walloped the Bearcats at Olson Auditorium.
Lester’s third 3-pointer at the 10:18 mark of the first half gave PLU (6-11, 3-5 NWC) an 18-8 lead.
At George Fox 89, Puget Sound 77: Spencer Bolte poured in 26 points, and the Bruins snapped the UPS winning streak at three games with a victory in Newberg, Ore.
UPS (9-8, 5-3 in NWC) tied it at 42 with 13:04 remaining, but George Fox went on a 17-5 run over the next three minutes, capped by A.J. Grant’s 3-pointer, to grab a big lead.
Erin Barber, a Puyallup High School graduate, tallied a career-high 33 points on 11-of-16 shooting for the Loggers.
At Pierce 67, Tacoma CC 63: With the NWAACC West so top-heavy with leader Clark and contenders Highline and Lower Columbia, it virtually leaves one playoff spot available.
And two of the teams fighting for it squared off in Lakewood.
Pierce’s Kami Hansen had back-to-back three-point plays in the first half, enabling the Raiders (7-11, 4-4 NWAACC West) to build a 25-15 lead with 7:43 to go. And they rode that advantage to a victory.
It also helped that TCC (9-9, 3-5) was limited to 34.2 percent shooting, making 26 of 76 field goals.
“I haven’t played a 2-3 defense unless I was trapping since I’ve been here,” Pierce coach Brian Purugganan said. “But the team has responded well to it. If it isn’t broke, I am not going to change it.”
Haley Hutchinson led the Raiders with 20 points and 15 rebounds. Mackenzie Lancaster added 13 points.
At George Fox 70, UPS 58: Jami Roos and Dacia Heckendorf combined for seven 3-pointers, and the No. 8 Bruins pulled away early in the second half for a home win.
George Fox (16-1, 7-1 NWC) started the second half on a 6-0 run to grab a 39-26 lead. Emily Sheldon led the Loggers (11-6, 4-4) with 18 points.
At PLU 71, Willamette 66: Samantha Potter scored a career-high 34 points, and the Lutes (7-10, 3-5 NWC) overcame a 14-point deficit in the second half to upend the Bearcats at home.
Andrea Adams’ 3-pointer with 1:16 to go gave PLU its first lead, 67-66, and Potter made four free throws in the final 33 seconds.