WWCC moves into three-way tie for first in NWAACC East

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MOSES LAKE - Walla Walla Community College pulled into a first-place tie in the NWAACC Eastern Region men's basketball standings here Saturday afternoon with an 88-75 triumph over Big Bend.

The Warriors have won seven games in a row and will enter the regular-season finale against Blue Mountain Wednesday night in a three-way tie for the East's top spot. WWCC, Big Bend and Spokane are all 10-3 in league.

Walla Walla, which improved to 18-5 overall, got double-figure scoring from all of its starters, led by Aaron Van de Graaf's 20 points. He was 7-of-11 from the field and 6-of-10 outside the arc.

Jason Smith added 18 points and Ryan Andrews contributed 15.

Points in the paint were provided by post Emery Henning and forward D.J. Wright. Henning and Wright scored 14 and 13 points, respectively. For good measure, Wright also went 2-of-4 from downtown.

Though Big Bend rang up more field goals than the Warriors (32-26), WWCC held a 45-12 advantage from 3-point distance. Walla Walla made 15-of-30 treys compared to just 4-of-16 for the Vikings.

Both teams eclipsed the 50-percent shooting plateau in the first half. The Warriors shot 57 percent (17-of-30) and Big Bend made 19-of-37 tries (51 percent).

WWCC led 51-45 at halftime.

"They came out and played really well offensively, and so did we," Walla Walla coach Jeff Reinland said. "Vandy had a big first half.

"We came out of halftime and got up nine, then they took the lead," Reinland said. "But we scrapped away and hit free throws down the stretch."

The Warriors established their final margin of victory by hitting five-of-six charity tosses with 40 seconds left after flagrant and technical fouls were whistled against the Vikings.

"It was extremely close," Reinland said. "The final score is not indicative of the game.

"Our guys were really excited and pretty jacked up," Reinland said. "The kids have played hard and battled hard."

Wednesday's WWCC-Blue Mountain game tips off at 8 p.m.

WWCC (88) - Wright 4-8 3-4 13, Roll 0-1 0-0 0, Andrews 4-10 4-5 15, Steele 0-0 0-0 0, Gibson 3-4 0-1 6, Van de Graaf 7-11 0-0 20, Fullerton 0-0 2-2 2, Smith 5-12 4-4 18, Moore 0-0 0-0 0, Corsi 0-1 0-2 0, Henning 3-3 8-11 14. Totals 26-50 21-29 88.

BIG BEND (75) - Nunn 0-1 0-0 0, Winn 4-11 0-1 11, Marsh 2-2 0-0 4, Hatch 0-1 0-0 0, Johns 2-4 0-0 4, Brumfield 2-7 2-3 6, Hattar 5-8 1-1 11, Brooke 0-0 0-0 0, Snow 5-12 0-1 11, Martin 2-2 0-0 4, Ranstrom 10-20 4-8 24. Totals 32-68 7-14 75.

Halftime score-WWCC 51, Big Bend 45. 3-point goals - WWCC 15-30 (Van de Graaf 6-10, Smith 4-10, Andrews 3-5, Wright 2-4, Gibson 0-1), Big Bend 4-16 (Winn 3-8, Snow 1-4, Johns 0-1, Hattar 0-1, Brumfield 0-2). Total fouls-WWCC 14, Big Bend 23. Fouled out-Big Bend (Ranstrom). Technical fouls-Big Bend (Winn, Brumfield). Rebounds- WWCC 35 (Andrews 9), Big Bend 40 (Brumfield 10, Ranstrom 10). Turnovers-WWCC 13, Big Bend 8. Assists-WWCC 14 (Andrews 6), Big Bend 15 (Snow 5).

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