OLYMPIA - Evergreen State broke Warner Pacific's heart the last time the two teams met.
Friday night’s Cascade Conference rematch saw the Knights break the Geoducks’ spirits early and bruise their pride often.
It was obvious almost immediately there would be no opportunity for late heroics this time as visiting Warner Pacific dominated Evergreen in every facet of the game, despite a deceptively close 85-76 final score.
“We stole the game (in Portland) so we knew they were going to come ready to play,” Geoducks guard Amos Saffold said. “I guess they just came out ready. They wanted to beat us on our home court since we beat them out there.”
Anthony Gallagher hit a 3-pointer from about 5 feet behind the arc with 11 seconds left in a 73-72 Geoducks win on Jan. 16 at Warner-Pacific. That outcome was still fresh in the Knights’ minds, and they played Friday like they had something to prove.
Warner-Pacific (18-7, 10-5 CC) broke a 14-all tie with 9:53 left in the first half with a 16-1 run and never looked back. The Knights ended the first half with a 13-point advantage they would eventually push to a high-water mark of 22 with 6:18 left in the game.
Warner Pacific built that lead on the strength of an evenly distributed offense that resulted in five Knights finishing in double figures. Jake Glisson led the way with 20, but it was Kaylone Riley’s 14 points that were most notable.
The 6-foot-8 senior regularly throws down ridiculous dunks, but a reverse putback off a miss over Evergreen’s Julio Feliciano with 10 minutes left was spectacular even by his standards.
“I didn’t even know what I was going to do until I was just in the air,” Riley said.
“That was incredible,” Saffold said. “I’ve never seen anything like that before. He could have just regular tip-dunked it, but he had to reverse that. I like that. That was nice.”
Still, it was a night where virtually nothing went Evergreen’s way. The Geoducks shot just 28 percent (7-for-25) in the first half, and their leading scorer – senior Nate Menefee – scored just five points before halftime. Menefee bounced back and finished with a game-high 25, but the early deficit, a whopping 24 turnovers and a Knights squad that shot nearly 51 percent for the game was too much.
“They just moved the ball real well and they shot the ball well, too,” Saffold said. “They got high percentage shots, a lot of free throws, and they got a lot of points.”
The loss drops the Geoducks into a third-place tie with Warner Pacific with three conference games left. Evergreen will play its final home game of the season today against Concordia, which is not one of four teams still in the running for the league crown.
“We’re still pretty good, we still hold our own destiny,” Saffold said. “We just got to come back ready and shake this loss off. Get that win (today).”
Tough second half dooms Geoducks women, 63-51
Latrina Woods scored a team-high 14 points for Evergreen State, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a sluggish second half in a 63-51 loss to visiting Warner-Pacific.
Kelsey Mattsen scored 18 points to lead a group of three Knights (15-9, 10-5 CC) in double digits.
Evergreen (9-17, 5-10) shot just 26 percent (7-for-26) in the second half.
TESC will close out its home schedule today against Concordia.