The Hermiston girls’ basketball team benefited from a herd of Pendleton turnovers — many self-inflicted wounds accompanying the forced ones — to run away with a 57-37 win Friday. The Bulldogs (11-5, 4-0 CRC) remain undefeated in the Columbia River Conference while Pendleton (5-10, 0-4 CRC) is still struggling to climb into the win column.
Hermiston backed the Bucks into a corner from the get-go with a 24-8 first-quarter romp. The Bulldogs forced their opponent into a basketball anomaly for most of the game: Pendleton had more turnovers lost than points scored until late in the fourth quarter. The Bucks finished in the black but still lost possession of the ball 32 times.
Hermiston's Maloree Moss puts up a shot guarded by Pendleton’s Gregerson, Schumacher-Sweek and Spencer. (Photo by EJ Harris)
“That’s what we try to do, to get them out of their comfort zone,” said Hermiston’s Jeni Hoffert, a culprit on five steals. “The less they have the ball, the more that we can score.”
Pendleton shot better Friday than in most recent games, but they struggled to get the opportunities to do so. The Bucks finished the game shooting well over 40 percent but battled for only 35 field goals. They’re averaging a painful 36 points per game in league play.
The Bucks got 10 points from bright spot Darien Lindsey in a breakout game for the point guard. Lindsey’s speed and court vision helped her to a 4-of-5 shooting night. Friday marked another milestone in the freshman’s continuing emergence, as she started her first varsity game as a Buckaroo.
“It wasn’t scary but I was a little nervous, excited about it,” Lindsey said. “Usually the first quarter I get nervous, but after that I kind of settle down.”
Like Lindsey, the Bucks settled into a grove on defense after an ugly first. The team trailed 37-16 at halftime, but hung around in the second half. Pendleton climbed to within 15 points early in the fourth quarter after trailing by as many as 24 in the second half. A Hermiston victory was never really in jeopardy but coach Steve Hoffert said he was disappointed in the way the Bulldogs allowed the Bucks to hang around on the outside edge of striking distance. Hermiston outscored the home team by only one point after halftime.
“We were up by more than 20 in the first half and our focus was to come out in the third quarter and build it to 30,” coach Hoffert said. “Our plan was to come out strong. You can’t give a team confidence in what they’re doing ... The first half we did that. The second we did not.”
Maloree Moss led all scorers with 16 points, one ahead of Jeni Hoffert. Moss scored seven of her points on a perfect night from the free throw line.