Clark College women raise heat on defense to beat Highline

By Micah Rice, Columbian sports editor

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It should come as no surprise a team nicknamed the Penguins keeps its nerve when things get cold.

Relatively chilly shooting didn’t freeze the hottest team in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges. The Clark College women's basketball team raised the temperature on defense to beat Highline 73-57 for its 14th consecutive win.

Clark entered the game shooting nearly 50 percent for the season. Saturday, the Penguins shot 37.5 percent from the field, including 2 for 15 from 3-point range.

But while Clark’s shooting stroke was lacking, the cupboard was hardly bare.

Clark had its high-pressure defense, which forced 26 Highline turnovers.

Clark had its poise at the free throw line, making 23 of 25 shots.

Clark also had Brooke Bowen. The sophomore from Skyview scored a game-high 25 points along with 13 rebounds and six steals.

“Brooke is our bread and butter,” Clark coach Al Aldridge said. “She creates an awful lot for us. She can hit shots from the perimeter. She can drive it. Probably her best attribute is her passing.”

Bowen drove Clark’s offense despite having a bum wheel. Twice in the first half she left the game after rolling her left ankle.

“It felt a lot worse the second time,” Bowen said. “It was a little stiff, but it wasn’t a very bad roll. I tried to play it off.”

Clark made up for its cold outside shooting by being aggressive near the basket. When Nicolette Bond put Clark ahead 31-19 with 6:46 left in the first half, it was Clark’s first made field goal outside of six feet.

“(Aldridge) always wants us to attack the hoop,” Bowen said. “He also wants us to drive and kick it out. It’s just a matter of seeing what works.”

Clark also dominated the boards, outrebounding Highline 47-32. Midway through the first half, Clark had built a 13-6 rebounding advantage. An exasperated Highline coach Amber Rowe Mosley called time out and yelled in the huddle “If you don’t block out, you’re coming out.”

The Penguins led 46-31 at halftime. Then the shooting went cold as the Penguins scored 11 points in the next 12 minutes. Highline, however, never pulled closer than nine points.

“We had a little letdown.” Aldridge said. “We changed up our trap and got momentum going back our way. When we went back to our matchup, things were a little better.”

It helped that Highline was without leading scorer Jada Piper, who missed the game with an injured finger.

Clark, ranked No. 2 in the NWAACC coaches poll, improved to 8-0 in conference play and 16-2 overall. The No. 7-ranked Thunderbirds (6-2, 15-5) saw their five-game winning streak end.