WALLA WALLA — Walla Walla lived by the 3-pointer at the Dietrich Dome Friday night.
The Warriors fell behind Seattle 4-0 early in Friday night’s community college men’s basketball opener in the Dietrich Dome.
Led by a pair of Jason Smith 3-point baskets, Walla Walla rallied in a hurry and jumped out to an 8-4 lead before three minutes had passed.
By the time eight minutes had ticked away, Smith had popped another trey and WWCC led the Storm by 16 points, 25-9, and the Warriors never trailed on the way to the 86-69 non-league victory.
Ben Searle led the Warriors attack with 21 points and Smith finished with 20 points on the strength of 5-of-14 shooting from behind the 3-point arc.
Searle also canned a trey in the first five-minute rally and hit 6-of-11 3-point tries on the night.
Emery Henning, WWCC’s 6-foot-10 post, chipped in 10 points and ripped down a game-high nine rebounds.
"It was good to start of the season with a win," Searle said. "I thought our team chemistry was pretty good. All of our shots didn’t fall, but we worked the ball around well and got good shots.
"Seattle was a good team, but every opponent at this level is pretty tough. And I thought we handled them well. It’s a positive way to start the season."
Searle said he no longer thinks about the 3-point line that was extended by a foot last season.
"I just shoot," he said with a smile. "Last year was the first year it was introduced, and it was fine. Now I’ve gotten used to it and just don’t worry about it any more."
The Warriors shot 50 percent from the 3-point area in the second half and finished at 14-for-32 and 43.8 percent for the game.
Overall the Warriors shot 49.2 percent from the floor but struggled a bit at the line with a 10-for-19 performance.
Seattle’s Will Bush, who suffered a cut on the head while rebounding in the first half and missed several minutes, led all scorers with 24 points.
Wyatt Taboh-Graziano and Theo Miller, a pair of burly 6-7 forwards, scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Storm. Taylor Mulberg, a 5-8 guard, led Seattle with eight rebounds.
"The player that hurt us was Will (Bush)," WWCC coach Jeff Reinland said. "He’s a good ball player. He’s hard to handle. He’s a load. Every time he was in the game in the first half, they got back in it.
"And when he was out, we got back up," Reinland said. "In the second half we didn’t get that luxury."
After WWCC led by 16 points midway through the first half, the Storm twice cut the gap to eight and finished the first half trailing by 10, 43-33.
The Warriors pulled to a 17-point lead, 55-38, with 13:49 on the second-half ticker.
While the Storm cut the gap to 10 points twice in the second half, they could not completely overcome the Warriors’ lead.
"We got a win," Reinland said with a smile. "I thought the kids played really hard. One thing that surprised me was that we didn’t seem to be in as good a condition as I thought we were. I thought we got a little tired out there. Probably some of it was nerves in the first game, and Seattle is a good club. They play hard, and they’re big.
"It’s a good win," Reinland continued. "It’s always nice to win, but we’ve got some things to improve. I really like the team, and the nice thing is we can get a lot better.
"We’re still going to fire up the 3," Reinland said with a smile. "That’s a given. We’ve got some kids that can shoot it this year. Jason was hot early, then he kind of cooled off a little bit.
"Overall I feel like we’ve got a good club," he continued. "We’ve got to learn to establish ourselves down low a little better. We got pushed around a little bit.
"The only frustrating thing about tonight is that we would get up 15 or 16, and we just couldn’t deliver the knockout punch," he added. "Overall, you’ve got to be happy when you win. It’s our first game, and we had a lot of kids out there that haven’t played much college basketball."
Reinland’s players will have some time to work on whatever the coach feels is necessary. WWCC won’t play again until Dec. 4-5 in the Warrior Classic in the Dietrich Dome.
SEATTLE (69) — Gray 1-1 0-0 3, Walker 2-4 2-2 6, Bush 7-14 8-10 24, A. Davis 2-7 0-0 4, Malysheff 3-8 1-3 7, Miller 4-8 2-6 10, Taboh-Graziano 5-9 1-2 11, G. Davis 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-59 16-25 69.
WALLA WALLA (86) — Wright 1-2 1-3 3, Roll 3-8 2-2 9, Andrews 2-2 0-0 6, Steele 0-1 2-3 2, Gibson 0-1 0-0 0, Van de Graaf 3-3 0-0 6, Fullerton 0-0 1-2 1, Schulz 2-3 1-2 5, Smith 7-16 1-1 20, Searle 7-15 1-1 21. Vlaco 0-0 0-0 0, Moore 0-0 0-0 0, Corsi 1-5 1-2 3, Henning 5-7 0-1 10, Baker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-63 10-19 86.
Halftime — WWCC 57, SCC 39. 3-point goals — SCC 3-12 (Gray 1-1, Mulburg 0-1, Walker 0-5, Bush 2-5), WWCC 14-32 (Roll 1-4, Andrews 2-2, Steele 0-1, Smith 5-14, Searle 6-11). Total fouls — SCC 19, WWCC 22. Fouled out — SCC (none), WWCC (Searle). Rebounds — SCC 38 (Mulberg 8), WWCC 38 (Henning 9). Turnovers — SCC 20, WWCC 22. Assists — SCC 10 (Mulberg 3, Miller 3), WWCC 20 (Henning 5).