CALDWELL, Idaho — The College of Idaho Yotes are bringing home another title after a matchup with Oregon Tech.
Playing in his final home game in a record-setting College of Idaho career, Talon Pinckney scored 23 points, leading the Coyotes to their third-straight Cascade Conference Tournament title, outlasting eighth-ranked Oregon Tech, 82-77, inside the J.A. Albertson Activities Center.
The senior helped the No. 1-ranked Coyotes (30-3) extend their school-record win streak to 24 games and joined OIT as the only team to win 3-or-more tourney titles in a row. C of I improved to 18-1 at home in 2019-20 – the most home wins in a season in program history – with the Yotes clinching their third-straight 30-win season.
Pinckney capped the night inside the final minute – as the Hustlin’ Owls (26-7) cut a Coyote lead to 77-75 on a Seth Erickson fade away jumper. The point-guard milked the shot clock to five, before draining a step-back 22-footer to give C of I a five-point lead. Tech had a chance to tie inside the final 10 seconds, but Erickson missed a contested 3-pointer, with Ricardo Time grabbing the rebound and hitting the resulting free throws to clinch the victory.
C of I made 12-of-24 3-point baskets in the win – including 8-of-12 in the first half – but OIT dominated the foul line, making a school-record 28-of-29 free throws – including all 14 in the second half.
Tech led 8-6 in the first two minutes, but Nate Bruneel converted a 3-point play and both Time and Pinckney hit triples in a 13-0 run to give the Yotes a 19-8 lead. C of I led 27-16 midway through the frame, before Mitchell Fink scored six-straight points in a 10-1 run to get the visitors back in the game – taking the lead at 32-31 on two Harrison Steiger free throws. Pinckney answered with a long 3-pointer, starting a 13-2 Coyote run, helping C of I to a 44-36 lead at the half.
The Yotes extended the lead to 54-41 early in the second half, before Fink rallied Tech – as the All-American hit a 3-pointer and a pair of mid-range jumpers to cut the margin in half – with Garrett Albrecht draining two free throws with 4:54 remaining to pull OIT even at 69-69. Pinckney canned a jumper on C of I’s next possession – giving the Coyotes the lead for good – despite Tech’s late efforts.
Bruneel scored 17 points in the win, with Time adding 14 points and six rebounds for the Coyotes. Ivory Miles-Williams scored eight points with six rebounds – as the C of I bench outscored the OIT reserves, 19-4.
Fink, the all-time leading scorer in OIT history, scored 26 points with five assists in his final game in the Northwest. Both Steiger and Erickson scored 17 points – with Erickson leading all players with 12 rebounds. The Hustlin’ Owls finished with a 35-32 rebound edge, but made just 3-of-14 3-pointers.
With the C of I win, Southern Oregon claims the CCC’s second automatic bid to the NAIA Championships as the regular-season runner-up, with OIT set to receive one of the seven at-large bids to next week’s tournament.
The 32-team tournament pairings and bracket will be released Wednesday afternoon by the NAIA Office.