Warrior women zone Pierce out, 61-46

WWCC defeats Pierce despite hitting just 28 percent from the field in the first half of the NWAACC tournament opener.

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WWCC's Leslie Stillar gets fouled by Pierce's Hayley Handcock during a hard drive to the hoop during Saturday's Warrior first-round win at the NWAACC Tournament.

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Warriors, left-to-right, Michelle Seitz, Gabby Anderson, Hailey Felgenhauer and Stevie Humphries cheer on their on-court teammates as the final minutes tick away in the Warriors' first-round NWAACC tournament win over Pierce Saturday at the Toyota Center.

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WWCC's Tai Jensen and Pierce's Taylor Riley get the handball going as they battle for a rebound during Saturday afternoon's NWAACC first round game at the Toyota Center. WWCC won.

KENNEWICK - There were some technical difficulties here Saturday afternoon at the Toyota Center.

For starters, the 30-second shot clock wasn't functioning properly during Walla Walla's first-round game against Pierce in the women's NWAACC Championships basketball tournament.

And then someone forgot to remove the lids from the baskets in the first half as the teams combined to shoot 13-for-58 from the floor for an icy 23.6 percent. The Warriors were 9-for-32 (28 percent) in building a 29-18 halftime lead while the Raiders made just four of their 26 casts (15 percent) and at one point went 12 minutes and 38 seconds between field goals.

Both teams picked up the pace in the second half, but the Warriors used a commanding 62-29 rebounding advantage and their ability to get to the free-throw line to record a 61-46 victory and move into today's 6 p.m. quarterfinal against Skagit Valley. Pierce dropped into a noon loser-out game against Umpqua.

"We didn't play our best game," said veteran Warriors coach Bobbi Hazeltine. "But we got the win and I am happy with that."

Sienna Edmunson, who paced a balanced Warriors offense, scored 16 points on 4-for-10 shooting from the floor and an 8-for-12 effort from the line. Leslie Stillar made 3-of-6 3-point shots and finished with 15 points, and Tai Jensen and Alex Pfefferle finished with 10 points each.

Walla Walla played almost exclusively a zone defense, and the Raiders couldn't shoot over it and found it difficult to penetrate. Pierce finished the game shooting 14-for-52 (27 percent) from the floor and 6-for-27 (22 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc.

"We knew they didn't have that many good shooters," said Edmunson, an athletic 5-9 sophomore. "We usually play man defense, but we played the zone to cut off their driving lanes to the basket."

"We haven't played a zone defense in years, and I don't think they were expecting it," Hazeltine said. "You could tell they were surprised."

Pierce responded with full-court defensive pressure. And although the Warriors committed only nine turnovers in the game, the pressure might have gotten the WWCC offense out of rhythm.

"It was a very stressful game," said Stillar, the Warriors' 5-6 sophomore shooting guard. "But we had practiced for it and I think we were prepared."

"We missed a lot of shots," Hazeltine said. "We missed a lot of layins. I know Tai (Jensen) is really frustrated right now. But we did do a good job of getting to the free-throw line."

Jensen, WWCC's sophomore post who had been averaging 20 points over her last seven games, was limited to 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting from the floor. However, she was 4-for-5 from the line and WWCC was 18-for-24 overall.

Jensen also hauled down 18 rebounds and Edmunson finished with 11 as the Warriors dominated the glass.

Despite their own first-half shooting woes, the Warriors gradually built an 11-point halftime advantage by taking advantage of Pierce's ice-cold shooting.

Taylor Rice, a 5-10 sophomore who led her team with 14 points and seven rebounds, scored on a drive down the middle with 13:55 showing on the first-half clock to give Pierce a 9-8 lead. By the time the Raiders hit their next field goal, a 3-pointer by Rice 1:17 before intermission, Pierce had fallen behind by 11 points.

Edmunson scored a basket and five free throws during WWCC's 18-6 run while Stiller made two field goals and Pfefferle added a basket and two free throws.

A 3-pointer by Stillar, Jensen's rebound bucket and a drive by Edmunson boosted WWCC's lead to 36-20 with 16:15 remaining. Edmunson's coast-to-coast basket drew a foul, and her free throw gave the Warriors their biggest lead of the game, 50-32, with 9:47 to play.

Pierce never drew closer than 13 points the rest of the way as Walla Walla cruised into the quarters.

Walla Walla 61, Pierce 46

PIERCE (46) - Brown 1-4 2-3 4, Hancock 0-7 0-0 0, Williams 3-7 3-4 11, Taufa'asau 4-7 3-4 11, Hagi 0-4 2-3 2, Riley 5-15 0-1 14, Trinidad 1-6 2-2 4, Creamer 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 14-52 12-17 46

WALLA WALLA (61) - Seitz 0-0 0-0 0, Klarich 2-8 2-2 6, Hawkins 0-0 0-0 0, Stillar 5-14 2-2 15, Pfefferle 4-9 2-3 10, Humphries 0-0 0-0 0, Felgenhauer 2-10 0-0 4, Edmunson 4-10 8-12 16, Jensen 3-15 4-5 10. Totals 20-66 18-24 61.

Halftime - WWCC 29, Pierce 18. 3-point goals - Pierce 6-27 (Hancock 0-7, Williams 2-3, Taufa'asau 0-2, Hagi 0-3, Riley 4-11, Trinidad 0-1), WWCC 3-13 (Klarich 0-3, Stillar 3-6, Pfefferle 0-3, Felgenhauer 0-1). Total fouls - Pierce 21, WWCC 17. Fouled out - Pierce (Hancock, Trinidad). Technical fouls - none. Rebounds - WWCC 62 (Jensen 18), Pierce 29 (Riley 7). Turnovers - Pierce 11, WWCC 9. Assists - WWCC 8 (Klarich 3), Pierce 7 (Trinidad 2, Taufa'asau 2).

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