North Idaho College men’s basketball coach Jared Phay had never seen a stat sheet like it. Neither had Community Colleges of Spokane counterpart Clint Hull.
NIC was outscored 57-3 from behind the 3-point line but even that wasn’t enough to stop the Cardinals, who owned the paint and outlasted the Sasquatch 105-97 Thursday in a wildly entertaining contest played at Central Valley High School.
“Wow,” said Phay, perusing the stat line that showed CCS 19 of 38 on 3-pointers. “That’s gotta be a record or something. To be honest, it was a great game plan. I thought they were going to slow the game down.”
There wasn’t much need for the 35-second shot clock. CCS (0-1) drained 13 first-half 3s, five each by Chaz Johnson and Preston Wynne, wiping out an early seven-point deficit to lead 54-51 at the break.
“That was up and down,” Hull said, “and we’re not in good enough shape this early in the year to play like that.”
The third-ranked Cardinals (8-0) scored the first eight points of the second half, but Spokane pulled back in front 74-73 when Rodney Delgardo hit a contested, off-balance 3 with 11:14 left. NIC used a 22-6 run, fueled by eight of Michael Hale’s game-high 30 points, to surge on top 95-80 with 4:30 left. Hale made the Cardinals’ lone 3-pointer during the run.
To that point, NIC had done a better job hounding CCS’s shooters in the second half, but then Johnson got loose for a pair of 3s and Wynne nailed another from long distance. Johnson dropped in his eighth 3 and a tip-in by Danny Marshall pulled CCS within 97-95 with 2:08 remaining.
NIC kept the ball in Hale’s hands and the speedy 5-foot-9 sophomore made two steals and hit 6 of 6 free throws to carry the Cardinals to the finish line.
Phay had a victory to conclude a day that began with wife, Tami, giving birth to their second child, daughter Makenzie, on Thursday morning.
“Michael’s our leader and we rode him,” said Phay, still sporting a hospital bracelet on his wrist.
Hull had plenty to be pleased with following his team’s season opener. Johnson finished with 28 points, Wynne 27 and Marshall added 11 points and 15 boards.
“Our emphasis was to get back in transition and keep them out of the paint, but we just didn’t do it enough. It seemed like all of their points were at the rim,” Hull said. “We didn’t finish on the scoreboard the way we wanted, but we competed and I’m really proud of the guys.”
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