Bearcats Fall to Undefeated Western Oregon

Jared Baumgartner (Jr., W, Albany, OR/Crescent Valley HS)
Jared Baumgartner (Jr., W, Albany, OR/Crescent Valley HS)

By Timothy Walsh, Athletics Communications Writer

MONMOUTH, Ore. -- Western Oregon University gained a 50-14 advantage in points in the paint and earned a 46-19 edge in bench points, as the Wolves defeated Willamette University 85-50 on Sunday, Dec. 20 at the New P.E. Building.

WOU, which is ranked #3 in NCAA Division II, improved to a perfect 11-0 on the season. The Bearcats, who compete in NCAA Division III, dropped to 2-7 on the year.

Janvier Alaby led Western Oregon with 14 points, while Jordan Wiley and Tanner Omlid each scored 11 points. Jordan Schriber also reached double figures in scoring for the Wolves with 10 points. Omlid grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.

Bridger Harlington (Sr., W, Lake Tapps, WA/Auburn Riverside HS), Brendon McCullough (So., G, San Antonio, TX/Home Schooled), and Alex Brown (Sr., F, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) were Willamette's top scorers, with each contributing seven points. Jameson Willems (Fr., F, Billings, MT, Skyview HS) scored six points.

WOU connected on 31 of 67 field goals (46.3%) and hit 18 of 22 free throws (81.8%), but were limited to 25.0% shooting on three-pointers (5 of 20). The Bearcats shot just 14 of 48 from the field (29.2%), including 26.3% (5 of 19) from beyond the arc. Willamette made 17 of 25 free throws (68.0%).

Devon Alexander opened the game with a layup for the Wolves, who are one of only four undefeated teams remaining at the Division II level, but two Harlington free throws tied the game less than a minute in to the contest.

A layup by Alex Ross at the 18:46 mark restored Western Oregon's lead, but Willamette stayed close over the following five minutes. With 13:23 remaining in the first half, two free throws from McCulloch narrowed the gap to 13-8.

A 14-2 run gave the Wolves a 27-10 advantage with 7:28 on the clock, before Jared Baumgartner (Jr., W, Albany, OR/Crescent Valley HS) ended the run with a layup in the paint. The Bearcats closed to within 38-24 when Willems connected on a three-pointer with 21 seconds left in the first half, but Omlid nailed a three for the Wolves with six seconds on the clock to give Western Oregon a 41-24 lead at halftime.

Willamette began the second half with five quick points, largely keyed by Baumgartner. After Brown missed a jumper, Baumgartner corralled the offensive rebound and scored on the putback. Two possessions later, Baumgartner stole the ball from WOU's Andy Avgi, then fed Harlington for a three to bring the Bearcats within 41-29 at the 18:58 mark.

From that point, however, the Wolves' defense held Willamette scoreless for nearly seven minutes, and an extended 18-2 run all but ended the Bearcats' upset hopes.

Willamette next travels to Whittier, California, for a pair of games at the Poet Classic, hosted by Whittier College. The Bearcats will take on Whittier on Tuesday, Dec. 29 at 8 p.m. (PST). Willamette will face Chapman University on Wednesday, Dec. 30 at 6 p.m. (PST). Whittier will provide video streaming and live stats for both games.