WWCC men show Linn-Benton who's boss at NWAACCs

All-league selections Jason Smith and Emery Henning lead the Warriors to the 87-75 victory Saturday.

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WWCC's Emery Henning, No. 22, puts up a shot over Linn-Benton's Dustin Hutley.

KENNEWICK - A pair of Walla Walla Community College standouts showed Linn-Benton why they were first-team all-league selections here Saturday afternoon during opening-round action in the NWAACC men's basketball championships at the Toyota Center.

Guard Jason Smith put the pedal to the metal for 32 points on 10-for-17 shooting from the field - 10-of-15 from 3-point distance - and post Emery Henning added 18 in the low block to lead the Eastern Region co-champions to their ninth-straight win - an 87-75 victory over the Roadrunners.

"Jason is one of those guys that - even if you're on him - he'll hit shots in your face," WWCC coach Jeff Reinland said. "He's good at reading screens."

WWCC, No. 6 in the final NWAACC coaches poll, improved to 20-5 overall and plays third-ranked Lower Columbia in a tournament quarterfinal contest today at 2 p.m.

Linn-Benton, now 12-14, opposes Bellevue today at 8 a.m. in an elimination game.

Smith drilled his first trey just 52 seconds after the opening tip to give the Warriors an early 3-0 lead.

But the Roadrunners tallied 12 of the next 16 points to assume a five-point cushion, 12-7. A layin by Xavier Watson ended the run at the 14:30 mark.

"Linn-Benton did a good job defending us," said Reinland, whose Warriors were playing their first game since Feb. 24. "They caused us some problems."

Walla Walla battled back with a surge of its own and took the lead for good, 16-14, on Smith's straight-on 3 with 13:03 on the clock.

The Warriors' advantage in the opening half got as high as 13, 33-20, on a low-post basket by Henning at the 8:29 mark.

Smith ended the half with 24 points as WWCC took a seven-point margin, 45-38, into the halftime break.

"We got complacent and Linn-Benton caught a little fire," Reinland said.

"It took me a while to get going," Henning said. "We didn't come out ready. We didn't play as well as we could have."

Though the Warriors were not at their best, their unselfishness was on full display throughout the game to the tune of 25 assists.

""They collapsed on the post and we made the extra pass to guys who were open," Smith said.

After yielding the first four points of the second half, Walla Walla busted the game open with a 16-2 spurt. Forward Aaron Corsi came off the Warriors' bench to score seven points during the four-minute, 41-second blitz. He started it off with an inside bucket at the 18:06 mark and finished it with another deuce in the paint that gave WWCC its biggest lead of the game, 61-44, with 13:25 left.

Linn-Benton got no closer than nine points the rest of the way.

Corsi and D.J. Wright contributed 11 points apiece for the Warriors.

Walla Walla was outrebounded 58-38, but managed 18 points off of 16 Roadrunners' turnovers.

"I guess you can get outrebounded by 20 and win," Reinland said.

LBCC (75) - Roos 7-16 8-10 23, Challe 0-1 0-0 0, Haney 0-1 0-0 0, Watson 9-18 1-3 19, Highland 6-13 10-10 22, Carter 4-15 0-1 8, Yukich 0-0 0-0 0, Wolf 0-2 0-2 0, Kruesi 1-5 0-0 3, Hutley 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-72 19-26 75.

WWCC (87) - Wright 4-5 1-2 11, Roll 0-0 0-0 0, Andrews 1-3 3-5 6, Steele 0-0 0-0 0, Gibson 0-3 4-4 4, Van de Graaf 1-5 1-2 4, Fullerton 0-1 1-2 1, Smith 10-17 2-4 32, Moore 0-5 0-0 0, Corsi 4-9 3-3 11, Henning 7-14 4-6 18, Baker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-62 19-28 87.

Halftime score-WWCC 45, LBCC 38. 3-point goals - LBCC 2-8 (Roos 1-2, Kruesi 1-3, Watson 0-1, Wolf 0-2), WWCC 14-29 (Smith 10-15, Wright 2-3, Andrews 1-2, Van de Graaf 1-5, Gibson 0-2, Moore 0-2). Total fouls-LBCC 25, WWCC 22. Fouled out- WWCC (Wright, Henning). Technical fouls-none. Rebounds-LBCC 58 (Watson 13, Carter 13), WWCC 38 (Wright 7, Fullerton 7). Turnovers-LBCC 16, WWCC 9. Assists-LBCC 13 (Highland 3, Kruesi 3), WWCC 25 (Wright 8).

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