BC MEN LOSE TWO, THEN TAKE BIG ONE FROM PENINSULA
The Bellevue College Men's Basketball team faced a daunting schedule last week as they faced three of the top five teams in the North region over a six-day span. Bellevue came into the week still defending an undefeated record overall and the number one ranking in the NWAACC Coaches Poll. Bellevue also reached a milestone as the highest ranked NWAACC team ever in the jucorecruiting.com national poll. Bellevue is currently ranked 18th in the nation.
On Monday, Jan. 23, the Bulldogs hosted the Orcas of Whatcom Community College. Bellevue handed Whatcom one of its two losses on the year in the championship game of the Pierce College Thanksgiving Tournament. This game featured the last two remaining undefeated teams in North region play and a chance for an early season hold on first place.
In a game that went back and forth, Whatcom took the early first half advantage. The Orcas led by as many as 10 points in the first half, but Bellevue was able to close the gap to six at halftime. Trailing 42-36 at the half, Bellevue came out strong to start the second period of play. The Bulldogs rode a better defensive performance to their own double digit lead with nine minutes remaining in the game. Unfortunately this was enough time for Whatcom to mount a comeback. In the final minutes the game was decided by free-throw shooting. Whatcom shot 7-8 down the stretch as the Bulldogs only hit 50% of their opportunities at the line. Whatcom came away with a 77-75 victory to remain undefeated in North region play.
Bellevue was led in scoring by Tre Benton with 16 points. Keaton Hayenga scored 15 points and added eight rebounds, while Andrew Squiers scored 12 points, and Rex Nelson added 11.
Bellevue traveled to Shoreline Community College just two days later on Wednesday, Jan. 25. Shoreline plays a unique style of basketball developed in the late 80s at Loyola Marymount University where they put on constant pressure and look to shoot the ball as quickly as possible. The Bulldogs did an excellent job of dealing with the Shoreline pressure early in the game, jumping out to a 22-7 lead that the Bulldogs held onto, taking it to 53-44 at half time. However, the pace of the game eventually got to the Bulldogs. Bellevue was outscored 57-40 in the second half, losing their second game of the season and their second straight game 101-93. Free throws were an issue again as Bellevue shot 52% from the line in the second half. The Bulldogs were led by big nights from Hayenga and Nelson. Hayenga scored 32 points and grabbed a season high 20 rebounds. Nelson also recorded a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Squiers added 12 points and Benton scored 11.
Bellevue looked to bounce back in yet another big game in the North region. On Saturday, Jan. 28, the Bulldogs hosted Peninsula College. Peninsula came into the game ranked number 3 in the NWAACC coaches poll and number 42 nationally. Peninsula's only region loss was to Whatcom. An even match-up led to an even half time score of 33-33. In the second half, Bellevue took leads of eight and 10 points only to let them slip away as Peninsula mounted a comeback. The Bulldogs finally took a lead that would hold up in the waning minutes and converted key free throws for the first time in a week. Bellevue pulled out a victory with a final score of 94-84.
The Bulldogs were once again led by Hayenga who scored 29 points to go with 9 rebounds. Sophomore Jon Humphrie played on a badly sprained ankle and still turned in a tough performance scoring 19 points with six rebounds. Nelson scored 16 points, while Eric Turner scored nine points, grabbed six rebounds, and added five assists.
Bellevue (5-2, 15-2) continues their stretch of six games in 12 days with two home games this week. On Monday, Jan. 30, the Bulldogs host the Tritons from Edmonds Community College (1-5, 1-13) at 7:30 p.m. to wrap up the first round of North region play. On Wednesday, Feb. 1, Bellevue plays Olympic College (2-4, 5-11) at home at 7:30 p.m.
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