WALLA WALLA - It's not easy to beat the same team three times in a single season - a lesson Columbia Basin College learned the hard way when Walla Walla Community College avenged two earlier losses with a 65-49 NWAACC East Division victory at the Dietrich Dome Wednesday night.
But it was the scrambling defense that got the job done, holding Columbia Basin - the NWAACC's leader with 48 percent of field goals made - to 32 percent on the night.
"They're the best team in the NWAACC and they're 7-0 (before Wednesday's loss) for a reason," said beaming Warrior head coach Bobbi Hazeltine, of CBC.
Columbia Basin got the tip and first score less than 20 seconds into the game - and WWCC answered.
It was a pattern that continued throughout the first half.
Walla Walla grabbed the biggest lead of the half with four minutes to play, when Leslie Stillar knocked in a 3-pointer for a 22-18 lead - and sealed the Warrior's lead for the rest of the game. The Warriors closed the half up 24-23.
The first six minutes of the second half was more of the same - every field goal had an answer and no leader emerged.
With 14 minutes to play, Alex Pfefferle knocked in a 2 and Stillar went 2-for-2 from the free-throw line, pushing the Warrior lead to 38-33.
Columbia Basin was forced to foul late, scrambling for possession, and the Warriors sealed the deal with 10 of their last 16 points coming from the charity stripe.
DeSales product Caitlin Duncan sealed the win with a final basket just before the final buzzer.
The Warriors (5-3 in league, 14-5 overall) were led by Stillar and Pfefferle, who knocked home 16 points apiece in the back-and-forth effort. Pfefferle had nine rebounds to go with the points, and Stillar led the team with three assists.
"Leslie Stillar is definitely the player of the game," Hazeltine said. "She was making things happen for us. She was hitting big shots and making defensive moves. She wanted this game.
"Our kids were really focused and fired up."
Walla Walla had 23 points off the bench.
"They played like I've never seen them play before," Hazeltine said. "We needed that win to stay in the hunt for playoffs. We have a lot of confidence - we beat the best team in the league, so why can't we beat anyone else?"
The Warriors lost to CBC in overtime, 57-55, in December, and dropped a 63-58 contest in January.
"We've got a lot of respect for CBC," Hazeltine said. "It's a friendly rivalry. They're well coached and they played tough. But we truly believed we could do it."
Hazeltine said CBC's Trishi Williams may be the best player in the NWAACC.
"We did a great job shutting her down," Hazeltine said.
Shiann Dreadfulwater and the Warriors held Williams, who averages 13 points per game, to just 10 on the night.
Columbia Basin is 7-1 in league and 18-1 overall.
The Warriors host Treasure Valley (1-7, 4-14) Saturday.
"We'll enjoy this tonight, but it means nothing if we can't win Saturday," Hazeltine said.
WWCC 65, Columbia Basin 49
COLUMBIA BASIN (49) - Williams 3-12 4-17 10, Malito 0-4 0-0 0, Strom 0-0 0-0 0, Jiminez 3-7 0-0 7, Stewart 0-1 0-0 7, Young 1-2 0-0 3, Rail 1-1 0-0 2, Freeman 3-8 0-1 6, Bland 3-11 0-0 6, Walker 2-9 0-2 4, Idler 4-7 3-4 11, Totals 20-62 7-14 49.
WWCC (65) - Dreadfulwater 2-6 2-4 6, Klarich 1-4 0-0 2, Wolff 2-5 0-0 4, Stillar 5-8 4-4 16, Pfefferle 3-8 10-12 16, Duncan 4-7 4-7 12, Humphries 0-3 0-0 0, Edmunson 0-1 3-5 3, Smith 1-1 0-0 2, Jensen 2-5 0-0 4.
Halftime score - WWCC 24, CBC 23. 3-point goals - CBC 2 (Jiminez 1-2, Young 1-1, Williams 0-2, Malito 0-3, Stewart 0-1, Bland 0-5), WWCC 2 (Stillar 2-3, Klarich 0-1, Edmunson 0-1). Total fouls - CBC 24, WWCC 16. Fouled out - Idler (CBC). Technical fouls - none. Rebounds - CBC 43 (Walker 8, Williams 8), WWCC 38 (Pfefferle 9). Turnovers - CBC 22, WWCC 22. Assists - CBC 8 (Williams 4), WWCC 11 (Stillar 3).