PENDLETON — Tyler Adams was slumping. His shot was off and it had showed when Blue Mountain Community College visited Walla Walla on Wednesday. He made only 1-of-5 shots from 3-point range and finished with seven points in a 72-55 loss.
The Timberwolves season had been following a similar path. BMCC wasn’t making all the shots that it should. On Saturday, Blue Mountain couldn’t miss.
The T-Wolves launched missiles against Columbia Basin College when the schools met on Mosby Court in Pendleton, sinking 14 3-pointers on the night, nine in the first half, on their way to a 95-73 victory.
Blue Mountain (8-7, 2-1 NWAACC-E) brought its heavy artillery to the NWAACC East Region battle, and started firing from the opening whistle. Dylan Martin sunk a 3-pointer to open the game, the start to a first half that saw more long balls swish net than 2-point baskets. BMCC made just 5-of-15 from inside the arc before the half while building a 44-28 lead.
The Hawks (1-12, 0-3 NWAACC-E) tried to keep up with five treys of their own before half, but CBC couldn’t stop the Blue Mountain charge. Before six minutes had expired in the second half, the Timberwolves put the game away with a 24-4 run that had BMCC doubling its opponent’s score, 72-36.
The Hawks have struggled this season — an easy barometer being their one win — and the team’s bench was only three players deep Saturday. Blue Mountain, on the other hand, quickly emptied its bench after taking the monstrous lead, getting a new set of five players big minutes in the second half.
That sent shooters like Adams, who finished with 22 points and a half dozen 3-pointers, and Martin into cheer-leading mode. Each time a Timberwolf backup would strut the lane like a star and get to the basket, the bench erupted like a party.
“I thought that was a lot of fun. Those guys have been working hard at practice so I liked that they could go out there and show what we’ve been doing in practice,” said Adams, who logged only five minutes in the second half.
Players like Trevor Kiser (seven points off the bench), Chris Randall (nine) started to pick up the slack. Randall continued the 3-point spurt with one of his own in the second half, and nearly added a second. His shot near the halfway point of the second half showed what kind of night it was for BMCC when a 3-pointer from the corner caromed off the rim before banking off the shot clock above the backboard and in the hoop.
Of course the basket didn’t count with the shot clock out of play, but even the T-Wolves’ trick shots couldn’t be denied.
The game wasn’t as close as the final score would suggest. The lead got as high as 84-45 in favor of the home team. But the reserves for Blue Mountain had goals in mind for the rest of the game and weren’t as worried about the scoreboard.
“We’ve been kind of slow in the second half lately so coach told us that we had to keep the tempo up, not get in a slump and let them back in the game,” Randall said. “Make sure we were keeping our foot on the gas.”
The Hawks were able to close the gap, but it wasn’t because of a Blue Mountain slump — the T-Wolves shot 61 percent in the second half — but rather because of CBC’s Kyler DeWitt.
The Pasco, Wash, native playing for his hometown school scored a game-high 32 points. Columbia Basin sunk eight 3-pointers with six coming from DeWitt, who had a field day against the backup defenders.
“When you get a shooter rolling like that, you’ve got to keep it from getting in his hands as much as possible,” said BMCC coach Adam Ellis. “Once he starts getting a few touches and knocking a few shots down, he gets some confidence and inside that rim looks like an ocean.”
DeWitt was the one-man army for CBC, Jerid Ronquillo the next highest scorer at 13 points behind him.
After Adams for Blue Mountain, Leroy Abraham III scored 13 and Darius Butler had 12, nine coming on the 3-ball. Martin would finish with 10 points.
Though playing a tough-luck team in Columbia Basin on Saturday, Ellis said he hopes the way in which the victory came will have some lingering effects this week. Blue Mountain has two tough road tests in Big Bend (13-4, 2-1 NWAACC-E) and Spokane (11-5, 2-1 NWAACC-E) coming up and the T-Wolves could use some momentum on their side.
And the mindsets of young players — of which BMCC is largely based, with just two sophomores — read into big wins even more, the coach added.
“They get a lot of confidence from stuff like this,” Ellis said. “You can kind of say they don’t really understand the difference between some of the teams. So this is a big win just like it would be against Big Bend or Spokane.”