By DUSTIN HOLDEN
of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
WALLA WALLA - Walla Walla Community College had three women in double figures, 14 team assists and some clutch free throws to grab a 63-56 win over Big Bend in NWAACC women's basketball action Saturday night at the Dietrich Dome.
The win locks the Warriors into the NWAACC playoffs March 5-8 at Kennewick's Toyota Center.
The win improves WWCC to 18-6 and 9-4 in NWAACC East Region play.
The Warriors will enter the tournament in March as the East Region's third or fourth seed, depending on how both WWCC and Yakima fare in their season finales. Yakima topped Blue Mountain 79-72 Saturday night.
"Its not that big of a deal if we make it as the third or fourth seed," said WWCC assistant coach Mark Lindgren, who coached in Bobbi Hazeltine's absence. "You have to play the top teams some time during the tournament.
"We used a lot of players against Big Bend. A lot of different players contributed points, played defense and got some rebounds. This will fare well for us in the upcoming tournament."
Alex Pfefferle's 19 points paced the Warriors, while Morgan Jo Wolff chipped in 12 and Leslie Stillar had 11.
With thirty seconds remaining, the Vikings had cut into the Warrior lead, with just three points separating them.
Pfefferle, benched with foul trouble, was back to provide a cushion. She knocked down four straight free throws to seal the victory.
"Those were big pressure free throws," Lindgren said. "She made them when we really needed them."
The Warriors led by 15 points with about 10 minutes remaining when Wolff took a hit to the head.
She left the game and didn't return. With her absence, the Vikings cut into the gap. Within two and a half minutes, the lead was cut to 10 points at 50-40.
But Pfefferle was able to make the free throws to extend the lead and shut the door on the Vikings with less than a minute remaining.
"Our defense played well for the most the game until we let them back in the game," Lindgren said. "But then we were able to execute down the stretch and get the win."
The Warrior defense held Big Bend to 26.6 percent from field-goal range on the night.
The Vikings were only 4-of-22 from downtown.
"Usually the Vikings shoot better from the field than that," Lingdren said. "We just played good defense. You could see how they can shoot by all of the free throws they made.
"We played good basic man defense the whole game and it worked."
The Warriors also tallied up some hustle points, with 16 offensive rebounds and three blocked shots to go with two steals.
WWCC outrebounded Big Bend 51-44 in the game.
WWCC's Tai Jensen and Big Bend's Marisol Lopez notched eight boards apiece.
The Warriors wrap up their regular-season schedule with a trip to Blue Mountain (6-7 in league, 14-11 overall) on Wednesday.
WWCC 63, Big Bend 56
BIG BEND (56) - Lopez 1-2 0-0 2, McGowan 2-8 2-2 7, Hirz 3-10 0-1 8, Neff 0-6 1-2 1, Scott 2-10 0-0 5, Lotz 0-4 1-2 1, Nielsen 3-8 10-11 16, Brown 0-5 1-2 1, Martinez 3-6 3-4 9, Lopez 3-5 0-1 6. Totals - 17-64 18-25 56
WWCC (63) - Dreadfulwater 1-5 0-2 2, Klarich 0-1 0-0 0, Jo Wolff 5-11 1-2 12, Stillar 4-8 0-0 11, Pfefferle 5-10 7-7 19, Duncan 3-8 3-6 9, Humphries 2-5 0-0 4, Edmunson 1-4 2-6 4, Smith 0-2 0-0 0, Jensen 1-5 0-2 2. Totals - 22-59 13-25 63
Halftime score - WWCC 63, Big Bend 56.
3-point goals - WWCC 6-15 (Dreadfulwater 0-1, Jo Wolff 1-3, Stillar 3-7, Pfefferle 2-2 , Duncan 0-1, Edmunson 0-1), Big Bend 4-22 (McGowan 1-4, Hirz 2-6, Neff 0-4, Scott 1-6, Lotz 0-1, Martinez 0-1). Total fouls - Big Bend 22, WWCC 19. Fouled out - Big Bend (Nielsen, Martinez). Technical fouls - none. Rebounds - WWCC 51 (Jensen 8), Big Bend 44 (Lopez 8). Turnovers - WWCC 17, Big Bend 15. Assists - WWCC 14 (Dreadfulwater 3, Klarich 3), Big Bend 3 (Hirz 2).