The Clark College women’s basketball game may have started late Saturday, but the Penguins were rolling early en route to an 84-68 first-round win over Whatcom of Bellingham at the NWAACC Tournament at Kennewick.
Saturday’s game was the last of eight in the women’s bracket at the Toyota Center, tipping off just after 10 p.m.
With the victory, Clark gets an earlier start time Sunday to face South Division champ and NWAACC No.1-ranked Clackamas (24-4), tipping off at 6 p.m. for the quarterfinal matchup.
Dominique Johnson scored 13 of her game-high 22 points in the second half for the Penguins and also had six assists. Andrea Smith had 18 points and eight rebounds, and Toni Toroha had 13 points and five assists.
Clark (16-11) won its fifth consecutive game, jumping out to a 17-5 lead in the first half.
Whatcom (18-9), the third seed from the North Division, did rally to get within five points three times, but Clark pushed the lead back up to 11 at 44-33 with 1:14 to play in the half.
Then the lead kept growing in the second half as the Penguins led by as much as 74-52 with 10:17 to play.
Clark coach Al Aldridge said the key was playing tough defense on Whatcom’s best shooter and wearing down the team.
“They (Whatcom) were fatigued chasing us, and from our good defense,” Aldridge said of his team’s play in the second half.
Clark shot 52 percent from the field, while holding Whatcom to 31 percent.