Friday was an off night for the South Puget Sound Community College men’s basketball team.
The Clippers shot an uncharacteristically low 11 percent from behind the 3-point arc and quickly found themselves facing a large deficit as Umpqua defeated SPSCC, 66-53, in the Northwest Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinals at Everett Community College.
“It was a tough night. Some bad luck mixed with some bad action,” Clippers coach Aaron Landon said. “... Some of that’s just a brutal shooting night. Some of it’s just luck. We couldn’t throw it in.”
The NWAC West-regional winners couldn’t dig themselves out of a large first-half deficit. After SPSCC tied the game at 6-6, Umpqua went on a 23-4 run to take control.
The Riverhawks doubled up SPSCC at halftime, leading the Clippers 38-19.
Umpqua shot 50 percent in the first half while SPSCC was just 21 percent (6 of 28) from the floor — including 1 of 7 (14 percent) from behind the 3-point arc.
The Clippers finished the game shooting 11 percent (2-of-18) from beyond the 3-point arc, well below their 40-percent average for the season.
“I thought they were just incredible the way that they shot the ball,” Landon said. “Some of those were pretty good defensive possessions where we were contesting and they just did a great job of shooting the ball and attacking us.”
The Clippers (23-6) battled back in the second half and cut the Riverhawks’ lead to 10 with 6 minutes to go in the contest.
But Umpqua’s Grant Ellison, who finished with 11 points, had a knack for hitting big 3-pointers to put an end to any runs by SPSCC, and the Riverhawks were able to pull away for good.
“They’ve got good players that can attack off the dribble and shoot the ball pretty well,” said Umpqua coach Daniel Leeworthy. “… They’re a tough team. They wouldn’t have made it this far and win their region if that wasn’t the case.”
Darrin Gethers and Daniel Reno scored 12 point apiece to lead the Riverhawks (20-9), who will face Tacoma Community College (17-13) in the semifinals.
Luke Chavez had 15 points to lead the Clippers and AJ Hodges added 13 points for SPSCC, which won 18 consecutive games and broke last season’s mark for the most wins in program history after starting the year 4-4.
“It’s the best team in South Puget Sound history,” Landon said. “... It was really hard to come up short, but it’s just a really exciting time at South Puget Sound.
“We’ve got really good people at the college. You can quote me on it — we’ll be good again next year.”