The Grays Harbor College men couldn’t extend 30 minutes of quality basketball to the end.
Outscoring the Chokers 28-16 in the final 10 minutes, Tacoma Community College rallied for an 82-71 victory in an NWAACC Western Division men’s basketball game Monday night at Sam Benn Gym.
The Chokers (1-2, 3-9) more than held their own with the favored Titans (2-0, 9-4) for most of the way in a fast-paced, exceptionally physical contest in which the majority of possessions ended with at least one player on the deck.
Hitting five 3-point shots in the first half and also attacking the basket effectively, the Chokers led 37-33 at the half. They were up by seven, 44-37, when Jeff Harris motored the length of the court for a conventional three-point play less than two minutes into the second half.
The Titans responded with an 8-0 run to produce the first of six lead changes in the next eight minutes. Grays Harbor’s Barry Smith tied it at 54 with a pair of foul shots with 10:21 remaining, then made one of two from the line 12 seconds later to give the hosts their final advantage.
For the most part, the final 10 minutes were contested in the paint. But while the Titans were usually able to convert their inside opportunities, the Chokers missed several close-in — albeit contested —shots and lost control of the ball on drives a few other times. Grays Harbor committed 11 of its 17 turnovers in the second half and shot only 29 percent from the field after the break.
“We ran out of gas,” Grays Harbor coach Jordan Altman said. “Missed shots and turnovers were certainly the catalyst, but it stemmed from a depleted rotation because of foul trouble and probably from playing Saturday night.”
Tacoma grabbed a permanent lead on Julian Vaughn’s layin at the 9:03 mark, but the Chokers were still as close as four (69-65) on Riley Alvord’s layin off a loose ball recovery with less than five minutes left.
The Titans then went on a 9-2 spurt, with hustling point guard Josh Lord scoring five of those points, to put it away.
“You guys are a lot better,” Tacoma coach Carl Howell told Altman during their post-game handshake.
Tacoma’s Demetrius Smith came off the bench to lead all scorers with 23 points. Four Titans tallied in double figures.
The Chokers also had four players reach double digits, led by freshman wing Arthur Erholm’s 15 points. Sophomore guard Jordan Hunt added 11 points. Barry Smith scored all 10 of his points in the second half to match Harris’ total.
Alvord also distributed five assists, one more than teammates Jordan Bowman and Dar’ijon Eubanks.
In addition to improved perimeter shooting, Altman also liked his team’s active zone defense in the first half.
“We hit a couple of shots and we really got after them,” the first-year GHC coach said.
Drawing the league bye Wednesday, the Chokers travel to Centralia on Saturday.
Tacoma (82) — Williams 13, Lord 17, Vaughn 16, Harper 4, Johnson-Wilson 2, Coley, Barsh 2, Stevens 3, Smith 23, Campbell 2. FG — 27-62 (.435). FT — 25-38.
Grays Harbor (71) — Bowman 5, Alvord 7, Harris 10, Smith 10, Wyatt 5, Erholm 15, Hunt 11, Eubanks 4, Richters 4, Harrod. FG — 24-66 (.364). FT — 17-23.
Halftime: Grays Harbor 37, Tacoma 33.