Hermiston lost back-to-back games for the first time since early January last week, falling at home to Pendleton 51-44 on Wednesday and on the road to the Dalles 91-85 on Friday.
Against the Bucks, Hermiston held a 24-18 lead going into halftime.
Junior Ryne Andreason helped Hermiston extend its advantage by scoring 11 of his 15 points in the first half. He finished with a team-best performance, and was the only player on Hermiston’s roster to reach double digits.
The Bucks’ found a new focus in the second half and outscored the Bulldogs 15-4 in the third quarter.
Pendleton switched from zone to man defense, and forced Hermiston into some uncomfortable shots. The Bulldogs uncharacteristically missed threes and then struggled to stop the Bucks in transition, hurting their chances of handing Pendleton its first league loss since 2016.
“It’s all about knowing who you’re playing against and what their strengths are and taking them away,” Pendleton head coach Kyle Tedder added.
Hermiston tried and succeeded in taking its lead back in the final five minutes of play. Sophomore Andrew Earl came off the bench a hit all three of his free throws after senior Shaw Jerome fouled him on an attempt behind the arc. The three-point play tied the score at 36-36.
A minute later, senior Andrew James knocked the team’s first 3-pointer since the first quarter to put the Bulldogs up 39-38.
With 2:22 left in the game, senior Cesar Ortiz — who is normally knocking down multiple threes a night — hit his lone bucket to again put Hermiston up by one, 42-41.
After Ortiz’s three, Hermiston’s next shot would come too late. The Bulldogs were down by seven points when junior Jordan Ramirez split defenders for a lay-in in the last four seconds of the game.
Hermiston hit the road just days later to face The Dalles, where again the Bulldogs held a halftime lead they would give up.
After the Riverhawks trailed for the first two quarters, The Dalles put on an offensive show in the second half to defeat Hermiston 91-85.
The Riverhawks were led by Dakota Murr, who scored a game-best 28 points. Jacob Hernandez chipped in 18 and Josh Nisbet scored 17 of his own.
For the Bulldogs (7-11, 2-2), Cesar Ortiz had a team-high 27 points — knocking down half of the team’s total 3-pointers (10) — and received help from Ryne Andreason (18 points) and Andrew James (13).
Hermiston hosted Hood River Valley on Tuesday. Results were unavailable at press time.