OLYMPIA - They left themselves no room for error.
Trailing by 15 points with just under 10 minutes remaining, The Evergreen State College Geoducks appeared to be out of time and out of hope against Oregon Tech on Saturday night.
Then the no-quit Geoducks rallied, trailing by three points twice in the final 72 seconds.
But Oregon Tech converted all six of its free throws in the closing 28 seconds to survive Evergreen’s wild comeback, winning 86-79 in a Cascade Conference men’s basketball game.
“If we’re down 30, I think we can still win,” Evergreen coach Jeff Drinkwine said. “I never think we’re out. This team has a big heart.”
Evergreen couldn’t overcome Oregon Tech’s 53 percent shooting and a 15-point deficit.
“We didn’t play hard until the last eight minutes,” Drinkwine said. “If we played hard like that the entire game, it would have been different.”
The loss snapped Evergreen’s seven-game win streak and put the Geoducks in a second-place tie with Oregon Tech.
Oregon Tech took a 69-54 lead on Justin Parnell’s jumper with 9:52 left. Evergreen then answered with an 8-0 run in which four different players scored, cutting the gap to 69-62 on Nate Menefee’s jumper.
In the game’s final 72 seconds, Evergreen pulled within three points twice – 78-75 on Anthony Gallagher’s basket and 82-79 on Julio Feliciano’s putback.
But that’s as close as Evergreen could get.
“We never think we’re out of it,” Gallagher said. “Not with this club. We were trying to grind it out. It came down to the little things.”
Menefee led the Geoducks with 29 points, and Gallagher added 16.
The Geoducks shot 56 percent for the game, 60 percent in the second half. And they still lost.
“We didn’t play defense,” Drinkwine said.
Evergreen shot 51 percent (14-for-27) in the first half and still trailed 45-35 at the break.
Parnell led Oregon Tech with 28 points, and Joseph Foster added 26.
In the 2008 conference tournament, Evergreen beat Oregon Tech, 93-76. The Owls haven’t lost at home since, a string of 30 games.
Oregon Tech 51, Evergreen 39: The Geoducks went 6-for-29 from the field in the second half on their way to the loss.
Evergreen was down 28-23 at halftime after trailing by as many as 16 points. The Geoducks then opened the second half with a 4-0 run, closing the gap to 28-27. But Oregon Tech went on an 8-0 run and led 36-27 on Morgan Hofman’s 3-pointer. After pulling within one point, Evergreen scored only one basket during the next 12 minutes.
With a little less than six minutes to play, Hofman swished another 3-pointer, and the Owls led by a 46-30 margin, regaining their 16-point lead.
“Terrible execution,” Evergreen coach Monica Heuer said. “Thirty-nine points is awful. We didn’t shoot well.”
Evergreen shot 22 percent (12-for-53) from the field for the game and was held to just 16 points in the second half.
“We had more shots then they did,” Heuer said. “We just didn’t make them.”
Latrina Woods led Evergreen with 12 points on 3-for-10 shooting – 1-for-6 from 3-point range. Evergreen went 5-for-22 on 3-pointers. Oregon Tech didn’t shoot much better, going only 7-for-20 during the first half.
“We held them to 50s, but you still have to score,” Heuer said.
Oregon Tech, which lost 57-46 at Northwest on Friday, improved to 11-9 overall and 4-4 in the conference.
Evergreen, which beat Southern Oregon 70-61 in overtime Friday, dropped to 6-12 overall and 2-5 in the conference.
“We played in spurts,” Heuer said. “You add the spurts and we maybe played half a game.”
Gail Wood: 360-754-5443