Despite Quick Start, Bearcats Drop Non-Conference Game to Ripon, 87-57

Hayden Russell (Sr., W, Woodland, CA/Da Vinci Charter Academy)
Hayden Russell (Sr., W, Woodland, CA/Da Vinci Charter Academy)

Written by Mark Colachico, Athletics Communications Writer

Salem, Ore. - Despite an 8-0 run by Willamette University to start the game, the host Bearcats dropped a non-conference game to the visiting Red Hawks of Ripon College (Wis.), 87-57, Thursday afternoon inside Cone Field House.

Ripon improved to 7-1 on the season. Willamette dropped to 1-9.

Willamette was led offensively by Hayden Russell (Jr., W, Woodland, CA/Da Vinci Charter Academy) with 13 points, while Jordan Jenkins (So., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS), Casey Thornton (Jr., F, Santa Rosa, CA/Maria Carrillo HS), and Johnny Verduin (Sr./So., F, Seattle, WA/Ballard HS) added 9, 8, and 8 points, respectively. Nico Troplent (Jr., W, Los Angeles, CA/Cathedral HS) pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds for the Bearcats, while Conin Oishi (Jr., G, Lake Forest, WA/Shorecrest HS) dished out a game-high five assists.

Ripon was led by two-time All-America selection and reigning two-time Midwest Conference Player of the Year Ty Sabin with a game-high 31 points on 12-for-18 shooting from the field, while Brendan McCoy added 10 points and a team-best seven rebounds. For the seventh time this season, Sabin eclipsed the 30-point mark as he led all scorers with 18 points in the first half on 8-of-12 shooting from the field.

Over the opening two minutes and 15 seconds, Willamette jumped out to an 8-0 lead that included back-to-back buckets by Jenkins that were sandwiched by the contest's opening basket by Verduin and a lay-in by Russell with 17:45 on the clock.

Ripon would then use a 13-2 run over the next three-plus minutes with eight points coming from Sabin, as the Red Hawks secured a 13-10 lead after a lay-in by McCoy with 14:35 remaining in the first half.

Willamette would pull within a single point (13-12) following a jumper by Oishi with 14:08 on the clock. Unfortunately that would be as close as the Bearcats would get, as Ripon used a 23-11 run over the next 11 minutes to secure a 13-point advantage (36-23) on a lay-in by Kyle Rutkowski with 3:43 left in the opening half.

Ripon would go into the locker room holding onto a 10-point lead (40-30), as Willamette outscored the visiting Red Hawks 7-4 over the final three-plus minutes that included a tip-in by Thornton with 23 seconds left for the final points of the first half.

The second half would see Willamette battle back to within eight points (54-46) on a three-pointer by Russell with 13:42 to go in the game. That would be as close as the Bearcats would get, as Ripon used an 11-0 run over the next six minutes resulting in a 19-point lead (65-46) on a lay-in by Cal Schultz at the 7:46 mark.

Over the final seven-plus minutes, Ripon would extend its lead to as much as 32 points (84-52) on a lay-in by Trent Jones with just under two minutes to play. Willamette would close the game on a 5-3 run with Nathan Sherfey (Jr., F, Chehalis, WA/W.F. West HS) scoring the Bearcats' final points on a three-pointer that resulted in the final margin of 87-57 in favor of Ripon.

As a team, Willamette combined to shoot 22-for-62 (35.5%) from the field to go along with a 5-for-23 (21.7%) showing from beyond the three-point line and an 8-for-11 (72.7%) performance at the free throw line. On the other hand, Ripon, who came into the game shooting over 50% from the field as a team, combined to hit 36-of-65 (55.4%) from the field, 8-of-15 (53.3%) from long distance, and 7-of-9 (77.8%) at the charity stripe.

Willamette returns to action tomorrow night - Friday, December 30 - when the Bearcats host the visiting Wildcats of Portland Bible College in their final non-conference game of the season beginning at 7:00 PM inside Cone Field House.