Pierce edged by Clippers at buzzer

// Youth shines for Raiders in loss

On Jan 14., the Pierce College Raiders men's basketball team (11-5 overall, 3-2 conference) faced the visiting South Puget Sound Community College Clippers (5-9 overall, 1-3 conference) in an exciting face-off, resulting in 12 lead changes and topped off by a last-second game-winning shot by the Clippers. The 73-72 league victory by the Clippers was an upset, especially after the Raiders offered up a wide range of talent on the court, including four players scoring in double digits.

The Clippers came into the game having lost three league games, while the Raiders were making progress with back-to-back wins on the road. The last time the Clippers beat the Raiders was over three years ago – on Feb. 20, 2008 (76-59) – making this Raiders loss even more of a shocker to the fans as well as the players themselves.

Clippers forward Anye Turner found holes in the Raiders defense and was quick to punish his opponents for not fundamentally boxing out through whole contest. Turner led all scorers with 26 points and made remarkable contributions in the first half. By the end of the first half, the Raiders were behind 37-28, after shooting just 37 percent from the field (11-of-29 two-point field goals; 4-of-13 three-point field goals; 2-of-4 free throws).

In the second half, however, Pierce aimed for a comeback, looking to freshmen John Palmer (17 points; 6-of-16 two-point field goals; 3-of-9 three-point field goals; 2-of-2 free throws) and Brett Skogstad (11 points; 4-of-11 two-point field goals; 3-of-9 three-point field goals; 0-of-1 free throws) to keep the game close with timely three-point plays and steals.

With 26.3 seconds left in final period of play and the Raiders trailing 71-70, Palmer played aggressive defense, stealing the ball away from Clippers guard Scotty Ewing (17 points 5-of-17 two-point field goals; 4-of-11 three-point field goals; 3-of-4 free throws). A quick foul on the part of the Clippers sent Palmer to the free throw line, where he quickly put two more points on the board.

Trailing 72-71 with only 24.3 seconds remaining on the clock, the Clippers took a time-out to regroup. They then quickly broke through the Raiders defense off a top screen, freeing Ewing up for a leaning floater that allowed him to redeem himself after his previous turnover. 

With the clock ticking down past 9.3 seconds, Palmer pushed up the floor at amazing sneaker-squealing speed, breaking through the closing defenders, which allowed him to kick it out to Dan Devries (5-of-8 two-point field goals; 2-of-4 three-point field goals; 2-of-2 free throws) for a rushed three-pointer that ultimately rimmed out at the buzzer to put an end to the contest.

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