KENNEWICK — The Columbia Basin College women's basketball team is a pretty business-like bunch.
The Hawks came into the NWAACC tournament at the Toyota Center with 23 wins and the No. 2 ranking under their belt along with expectations of playing in Tuesday's championship game. They're not given to "rah-rah" self congratulation, as much as their coach, Cheryl Holden, would love for them to loosen up now and again.
So when CBC skipped across the court following Sunday evening's 58-46 win over No. 3 Lane to raise a cheer with their fans, it was evident that something big just happened, even if it didn't involve any trophies ... yet.
"Lane's a tough team, and we needed to beat them to get where we want to be," said freshman forward Tiffany Idler. "After that comeback, it feels awesome."
Ah, yes, the comeback -- a 10-minute defensive clinic against the best offense in the NWAACC that saw the Hawks limit the Titans to a single 3-pointer, that with the game well in hand in the final minute.
It was a run that made CBC's sudden burst of offensive heat -- after 28 minutes of frost -- seem like a conflagration of points, fueling the Hawks' 24-point swing.
"Defense was dominant," said guard Trishi Williams, who had 12 points and four assists but was huge pulling down 15 rebounds. "You can score all the points you want, but if they come down and score too, it doesn't help anything."
CBC (25-2) will play in tonight's second semifinal at 8 against Walla Walla (21-6). The two teams split their games during the regular season. In the other semifinal, Spokane (22-6) faces top-ranked Clackamas (25-2).
The semifinals seemed unlikely for the Hawks when they went minutes without scoring a point against Lane (22-6). Only a couple of late buckets inched them up to 16 points at the half.
Still, Holden preached calm at halftime, letting her players know they were getting the shots they wanted. Now they just needed to knock them down. Oh, and great defense holding a team averaging 80 points a game to just 29 in the first half.
"We were doing everything we needed to do," Holden said. "The shots just weren't falling."
CBC wasn't having much luck chipping away to start the second half, never able to get within single digits. And when Lane's Brittany May converted a four-point play to push the lead back to 15, it looked like the beginning of the end for the Hawks, who had mustered just 24 points with only 12 minutes left.
But then, as if a switch were flipped, the Hawks found their offensive flow.
Jorie Freeman scored a pair of buckets, the second on a putback, and Andrea Bland buried the team's second 3-pointer of the game.
Sharaysa Stewart's quick outlet to Williams led to a three-point play for Idler, and then Lacey Young came off the bench and promptly canned another trey.
In a matter of three minutes, CBC had scored more than half its total from the first 32 minutes of the game. And it didn't stop there.
"We played well, but our shots weren't falling," Idler said. "Once our shots started falling, they didn't have a chance."
Idler engineered her own five-point mini-run, including a coast-to-coast steal and layup from the 5-foot-11 post, to pull within one.
Bland gave the Hawks their first lead -- the only they would need -- when she gathered in a loose ball all alone on the weakside for an uncontested layup.
All the while, CBC's defense was taking the starch out of Lane. Freeman manned up on Titans star Ashley Smith, a 6-1 wing averaging 23.9 points, and made her disappear in the second half. Smith finished with 18 points to lead the Titans, but scored only seven in the second half.
"Jorie on No. 4, I can't say enough about her defense," Holden said as she ticked off a list of accomplishments from her players.
Williams, along with her fine numbers, played nearly 36 minutes despite getting into foul trouble in the first half. Idler finished with a team-high 15 points and, after going 1-for-6 at the foul line in the first half, hit 6 of 7 in the final 20 minutes.
Bland added 11 points, Freeman 10 along with seven boards and four blocks. After turning the ball over 30 times Saturday, the Hawks cut that down to eight. They won the battle of the boards, even limiting Lane to just 11 offensive rebounds compared to 22 for CBC.
"This group," Holden said, "has a huge heart."
COLUMBIA BASIN -- Williams 3-13 6-7 12, Malito 0-0 0-0 0, Strom 0-0 0-0 0, Jiminez 0-7 0-0 0, Stewart 1-2 0-0 2, Young 2-3 0-0 5, Freeman 5-16 0-3 10, Bland 4-11 1-2 11, Wlker 1-1 1-2 3, Tiffany Idler 4-15 7-13 15. Totals20-68 15-27 58
LANE -- Ashley Smith 7-20 3-4 18, May 2-6 1-1 6, Anderson 1-3 0-0 2, Smith 0-6 2-3 2, Brunetti 3-4 0-0 8, Levings 0-5 2-2 2, Ficek 0-6 0-0 0, Huff 3-5 2-2 8. Totals 16-55 10-12 46.
Halftime-- LCC 29, CBC 16. 3-point goals--CBC 3-15 (Jiminez 0-7, Young 1-2, Bland 2-6), LCC 4-12 (Smith 1-2, May 1-3, Smith 0-1, Brunetti 2-2, Ficek 0-4). Rebounds--CBC 50 (Williams 15, Freeman 7, Idler 6), LCC 45 (Smith 8, Levings 10). Assists--CBC 13 (Williams 4), LCC 13 (Smith 5). Turnovers--CBC 8, LCC 18. Fouls--CBC 14, LCC 24.