Does the Slipper fit on a Titan foot? Cinderella Tacoma does it Again defeating Umpqua 79-74
TACOMA 79 UMPQUA 74 stats
The first game of the Men’s Final Four featured the South region Co-Champs, the Umpqua Riverhawks and the West #4 seed the Tacoma Titans who upset the #1 overall ranked North Idaho Cardinals in the opening round of tournament play.
The key to tonight’s matchup would be both team’s ability to protect the paint being the #1 and #2 ranked teams in the NWAC in blocked shots (Tacoma 1st, Umpqua 2nd).
The defensive prowess of both teams would hold true in the opening 10 minutes of the game. Both teams would force 6 turnovers and hold the opponents to under 40% field goal shooting but the difference maker would be Tacoma’s Khalil Thompson with 9 of TCC’s 18 points. The Titans would have a four-point lead going into the under ten media timeout.
The Riverhawks would hang tough and continue to work the ball inside and it would be UCC’s Ethan Bett’s and Darrin Gether’s combined 7 of 12 shooting that would lead Umpqua into the break with a 40-36 advantage.
In the second half, TCC would look to recover from a 3 of 12 (25%) 3pt shooting slump from beyond the arc and looked to capitalize off of transition opportunities, scoring their first 4 points of the half out on the break.
The game would take an interesting turn under the 15-minute mark when a hard Umpqua foul would lead to five TCC players leaving the bench and their ultimate disqualification. This left the Titans with six eligible players for the remainder of the game.
Those six players would battle, led by Khalil Thompson offensively (26 pts) and a huge defensive and rebounding performance from Quentin Bethea who would finish with 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots.
An exciting final 2 minutes would see Tacoma take a 73-72 lead on a free throw by Stephon Shaw and hang on to the lead sinking free throws down the stretch to seal the win 79-72.
Tacoma moves on to the Championship game for the first time since they won it all back in 2012 and will await the winner of Walla Walla and Lower Columbia. The Titans will be making their 11th title game appearance looking for their 8th league title.