By RODNEY HARWOOD of the COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD
EVERETT — Walla Walla guard Cierra Jo McKeown had four different looks at setting the NWAC Tournament individual game scoring record in the final minute, but couldn't find the stroke one more time.
Even so, McKeown finished two points shy of the record with 45 points to lead the Warriors to a 92-64 win over Big Bend Saturday night in Everett.
The Walla Walla (31-1) victory sets up a clash of titans with Umpqua (31-1), which beat Bellevue 103-70 in the other semifinal, for the championship.
The fairytale run for the Vikings (22-10) came to an end, but it wasn't for lack of effort. Four of the five starters finished in double figures. Callie Gronning, a 5-foot-7 sophomore from Soda Springs, Idaho, was 8-of-18 from the floor and finished the final game of her Big Bend career with a team-high 19 points. Sophomores Sunnie Martinez (11 points), Hailey Garrity (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Emily Allan (5) threw everything they had into the final game of their community college careers. Freshman Leah Dougherty played the entire second half with four fouls added 14 points and nine rebounds.
But the story of the night was McKeown, who went into the game averaging 23.3 points per game. The 5-9 sophomore from Touchet scored 27 of her game-high 45 points in the first half. She was scheduled to come out with 1:43 remaining, but when she hit one more 3-pointer (7-16) from the wing, Walla Walla coach Bobbi Hazeltine left her in and designed four separate sets to feed McKeown the ball for one last basket for the tournament record.
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