Peninsula College’s Roosevelt Williams Jr. goes up for a layup around Columbia Basin’s Ta’Veus Randle on Saturday in the NWAC tournament held in Pasco. Peninsula lost 77-73. (Jay Cline/Peninsula College)

Peninsula College’s Roosevelt Williams Jr. goes up for a layup around Columbia Basin’s Ta’Veus Randle on Saturday in the NWAC tournament held in Pasco. Peninsula lost 77-73. (Jay Cline/Peninsula College)

NWAC TOURNAMENT BASKETBALL: Peninsula men fall in opener to Columbia Basin

Pirates shoot 9-for-34 from outside

PASCO — The Peninsula College men’s basketball team couldn’t overcome a big and deep Columbia Basin team playing a home game in the opening round of the Northwest Athletic Conference, falling 77-73 in Pasco.

The men finish with a 25-4 record and a North Region championship, but simply couldn’t make a tournament run.

The Pirates had three open shots at potential game-winning 3-pointers from Mikey Medlock Jr. in the final 45 seconds. His stepback 3-point attempt with 32 seconds left that might have sealed the win looked good, going halfway down and somehow rattling out. Another Medlock shot with 3 seconds left that would have won the game looked straight as an arrow but came up short off the front rim.

After the game, coach Donald Rollman said the game was a “tough pill to swallow.”

“We were creating good looks. The shots were there. Honestly, we played well enough to win. The shots just didn’t fall,” Rollman said. “Those were shots we were making all year long.”

For the game, the Pirates shot 9-for-34 (26.5 percent) from 3-point range. Peninsula started off slowly from outside, made a flurry of 3-pointers at the end of the first half and beginning of the second half, then missed several at the end of the game.

Rollman said this team played hard all year long and won an exceptionally tough North Region. The East Region is also tough with a 29-0 North Idaho team leading that region. Columbia Basin was somehow a No. 4 seed, even though the Hawks have a 21-6 record.

“The players are understandably crushed, but they deserve to give themselves some grace,” Rollman said.

Rollman said the one thing the Pirates could have done better is rebound. Peninsula got outrebounded 35-23 by the Hawks, who are a pretty big team with an athletic 6-foot-8 post in Latrell Barker.

The Pirates were missing one of their better players, Malik Jackson, who was seriously injured late in the year. Rollman thinks the team could have adjusted to Jackson’s loss if it had happened earlier in the season, but so late in the year, it was a tough blow.

Aidan Olmstead, who had been out for a few weeks with a high ankle sprain, came back for the Columbia Basin game and gave the Pirates a huge boost, hitting a pair of 3-pointers and going for a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

With the loss, only the Peninsula women, also North Region champs and a No.1 seed, are the only Pirates team still alive in the postseason. The women, who beat Linn-Benton and Walla Walla in the NWAC tournament, will play Lane College out of Eugene, Ore., at 3 p.m. Saturday in Pasco in the NWAC semifinals.

Momentum shifts

The Pirates got off to a slow start, going 1-for-11 from 3-point range to start the game as Columbia Basin got up 15-11.

Down 37-32 late in the first half, the Pirates finished the half with three straight 3-pointers, one from Williams, one from Medlock and then a 40-foot shot that banked in at the buzzer from Medlock.

Medlock’s heave gave the Pirates a 41-39 lead going into the break and Peninsula opened up the second half on a 7-0 run, with Max D’Amato adding a fourth straight 3-pointer to begin the half. At 48-39, Peninsula had its biggest lead of the game after a 16-2 run.

However, in just over two minutes, the Hawks responded with a 10-0 run to take back the lead at 49-48. It began a pattern of each team trading big runs all second half with neither team getting ahead by more than five points.

After Columbia Basin’s Teagan Hoard hit a 3-pointer with 1:41 left to tie the game at 71-71, the Pirates responded with a beautiful backdoor cut by Ese Onakpoma with the pass coming from Olmstead for a 73-71 lead with 1:22 left.

Columbia Basin followed with a pair of free throws after a touch foul called against Peninsula to tie at 73-73 with 1:11 left. Ta’Veus Randle made a great drive to the basket with 26 seconds left to give the Hawks a lead at 75-73.

After Peninsula’s final possession with Medlock’s miss, Columbia Basin got the rebound and hit a layup on a full court pass at the buzzer for the final margin.

Medlock finished with four 3-pointers and 17 points for the Pirates. Williams had 14 points and seven rebounds, while Onakpoma and D’Amato each had 10 points.

Columbia Basin 77, Peninsula 73

Col. Basin 39 38 — 77

Peninsula 41 32 — 73

Col. Basin (77) — Hoard 14, Randle 13, Martinez 12, Cross 11, Barker 10, Rivers 8, Siebers 8, Munoz 1.

Peninsula (73) — Medlock 17, Williams 14, Olmstead 13, Onakpoma 10, D’Amato 10, Ervin 9.

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