Pierce rushes to victory with a 34-point run in the second half

Mt. Hood women’s basketball coach Tyler Rose could only scratch his head in befuddlement. No words or other reaction could have summed things up any better. In the first round of the Clackamas Community College Thanksgiving Invitational on Friday, the Saints allowed a 34-0 run on their way to getting torched by the Pierce Raiders, 96-59.

“Their pressure for a full 40 minutes was something we weren’t ready for,” Rose said. “Are girls are prepared yet to handle that kind of pressure, and Pierce stuck with to the end.”

Pierce brought the pressure from the opening tip until the final horn, and that full-court press defense forced Mt. Hood into frequent turnovers. Almost impossibly, the Saints waded through Pierce’s defense and maintained control for most of the first half. Mt. Hood got out in transition whenever it broke the press, leading to layups and other shots in the paint. The Saints shot almost 54 percent in the first half and led 37-34 with 90 seconds left in the period.

Then the game completely unraveled for Mt. Hood.

The Raiders scored the final seven points of the half to take a 41-37 edge into the break, and halftime did nothing to slow them down. They wore down Mt. Hood with their pressure, so much so that the Saints only got off a shot without turning the ball over every few possessions. On the other end, the rim must have looked like a hula hoop to Pierce, because everything it threw up went in.

In the first 7:15 of the second half, Pierce scored 27 points without letting Mt. Hood score once. All told, the Raiders outscored Mt. Hood 34-0 in a nine-minute span to turn a four-point deficit into a 68-37 advantage.

Finally, with 12:30 left, Mt. Hood broke the drought and made a bucket, but the agony didn’t stop there. The Saints continued to struggle in the face of Pierce’s press and the turnovers racked up. They fell behind by as many as 39 points and never pulled within 25 points. The Saints turned the ball over 43 times in the game which led to 47 Pierce points.

“We definitely have a lot to learn from. We have seen now some things that aren’t working, and so we need to adapt and adjust,” Rose said. “We are starting to get a bit of a chip on our shoulder.”

Mt. Hood did have some success when it had a chance to setup its offense, and a few players showed they could produce. Whitney Warren led the team with 15, 11 of which came in the first half. Freshman Marley Yates had 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting, and seven rebounds. Alana Wilson also hit double-figures, scoring 10 points off the bench.

The Saints were eliminated from the tournament on Saturday after falling to the George Fox University JV team, 61-58. Yates and Megan Nelson led the team with 10 points apiece in that one.

Host school Clackamas CC won the tournament 82-81 over South Region foe Umpqua in Sunday’s finale.

Mt. Hood takes part in the Warrior Classic this weekend, opening at 6 p.m. Friday against host Walla Walla.

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