KENNEWICK — Walla Walla co-captains Caitlin Duncan and Hailey Felgenhauer put their team on their collective backs here Saturday night in the Toyota Center and carried the Warriors to a 71-57 victory over Southwest Oregon in the first round of the NWAACC Championships women’s basketball tournament.
The redshirt sophomores combined for 46 points and 13 rebounds as WWCC advanced to a tournament quarterfinal match this afternoon at 4 against a familiar foe, Skagit Valley, which held on for a 68-66 first-round win over Lower Columbia in the game immediately preceding the Walla Walla-Southwest Oregon game.
Southwest Oregon and Lower Columbia square at 8 p.m. in a loser-out game.
“We’re an experienced team,” WWCC coach Bobbi Hazeltine said. “I think that was a difference in this game.”
Duncan and Felgenhauer have been here twice before, she noted, once as a player and once as an inactive redshirt. Felgenhauer missed the 2011 tournament after injuring her knee as a true freshman and Duncan sat out last season for the same reason.
Neither was intimidated by unfamiliar surroundings or the scrappy but outmanned Lakers Saturday night.
Felgenhauer scored 13 of her 21 points in the game’s early going as WWCC eased its way to a 17-13 lead with 8:36 remaining on the first-half clock. The last of those points came on two free throws after Southwest Oregon coach Mike Herbert was whistled for a technical foul.
Duncan drained the first of her three 3-point baskets on the ensuing possession for a 20-13 lead and the Warriors never allowed the Lakers to draw closer than five points the rest of the way.
Duncan scored 10 of her game-high 25 points during the final 10 minutes of the first half. She hit back-to-back 3s and then split the middle of the Lakers defense for a layin as WWCC pulled away to a 40-26 halftime advantage.
“We had different girls get hot,” Hazeltine said. “First Hailey was hitting, then Caitlin, and Michelle (Seitz) also hit a couple.”
Seitz, WWCC’s leading scorer on the season, wasn’t her usual self at the offensive end of the court, however. She was 4-for-14 from the field overall, 2-for-8 from 3-point distance and finished the night with 10 points.
“Her job tonight was defending No. 10,” Hazeltine said of Seitz and referring to Lakers guard Jazmin Bumbry. “And what was she? Four-for-17 from the floor.
“We don’t want to take Michelle away (from the offense), but we know that we have a lot of other weapons.”
The Walla Walla defense also did a number on Quynne Eharis, Southwest Oregon’s all-Southern Division post player who led the entire NWAACC in rebounding during the regular season and finished seventh overall in scoring. Eharis was limited to 10 points and seven rebounds in the game after being held to four points and two rebounds in the first half.
“We played a sagging man-to-man defense,” Hazeltine said. “We worked for five days on blanketing No. 41 (Eharis) wherever she went. All we cared about was defending her.”
Southwest Oregon hit its first three shots of the second half and closed to within 10 points, 42-32, at the 17:06 mark. But two Felgenhauer 3-pointers and another by Seitz sparked a 14-3 Warriors run and boosted Walla Walla’s lead to 56-35, its largest of the night, with 12:11 on the second-half clock.
Felgenhauer, normally the Warriors’ most effective inside scorer, was 7-for-12 from the field and connected on 3-of-4 3-point shots.
“She can score from out there,” Hazeltine said of Felgenhauer’s game. “She usuallly doesn’t shoot a lot of 3-pointers, but she’s very good from around 18 feet.”
The Warriors cranked up 26 3-point attempts on the night, more than on most, and made nine of them. Eharis’ presence inside might have been the reason.
“It just happened,” Hazeltine said of the plethora of 3s. “We come off those back screens so well. We practice them every day, so why not shoot them?”
Seitz led all rebounders with 11 and Duncan grabbed nine boards. Allie Kelsey came up with a team-high five assists to go with five points and six rebounds. Amy DeLong scored seven points, picked off five rebounds and chipped in with two assists.
Maricela Aguilera led the Lakers with 14 points and Bembry added 10 points and a game-high seven assists.
Walla Walla has met Skagit Valley three times in the last four tournaments, including the Warriors’ 72-68 overtime victory over the Cardinals in last year’s quarterfinals.
“It seems like we play them every year,” Hazeltine said. “It is always their zone defense against our man-to-man, and it will be the same thing tomorrow.”
Walla Walla 71, Southwest Oregon 57
SOUTHWEST OREGON (57) — Aguilera 4-6 2-2 14, Bembry 4-17 2-6 10, Laird 2-6 0-0 5, Dexter 3-9 0-4 7, Siri 1-1 0-0 2, Eharis 4-10 2-3 10, Berry 4-6 1-2 9. Totals 22-55 8-15 57.
WALLA WALLA (71) — Seitz 4-14 0-0 10, Hawkins 1-2 1-2 3, DeLong 2-5 3-4 7, Duncan 9-21 4-4 25, Rad 0-5 0-0 0, Felgenhauer 7-12 4-4 21, Kelsey 2-6 0-0 5, Anderson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-65 12-14 71.
Halftime — WWCC 40-26. 3-point goals — SW Oregon 5-15 (Aguilera 4-4, Bembry 0-2, Laird 1-4, Dexter 0-4, Berry 0-1), WWCC 9-26 (Seitz 2-8, Duncan 3-9, Felgenhauer 3-4, Kelsey 1-5). Total fouls — SW Oregon 15, WWCC 14. Fouled out — none. Technical fouls — SW Oregon bench. Rebounds — WWCC 46 (Seitz 11), SW Oregon 31 (Eharis 8). Turnovers — SW Oregon 15, WWCC 14. Assists — WWCC 16 (Kelsey 5), SW Oregon 10 (Bembry 7).