Pacific Rallies from nine-point Halftime Deficit to Defeat Bearcats, 74-62

Johnny Verduin (Sr./So., F, Seattle, WA/Ballard HS)
Johnny Verduin (Sr./So., F, Seattle, WA/Ballard HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SALEM, Ore. -- Pacific University held Willamette University to 25.0% shooting in the second half, as the Boxers rallied from a 47-38 halftime deficit to defeat the Bearcats, 74-62, at Cone Field House on Friday, Feb. 17. Pacific improved to 11-12 overall, 5-10 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette dropped to 4-20 on the season, 2-13 in the NWC.

Willamette connected on 69.2% of its shots in the first half (18 of 26), including 5 of 7 on 3-pointers (71.4%), but hit only 6 of 24 field goals and went 0 for 3 on 3-pointers in the second half.

Nate Olowo of Pacific led all players with 18 points and 12 rebounds. He was 7 for 7 on field goals. Davis Holly added 17 points and hit three 3-point shots for the Boxers.

In addition, J.B. Ewell scored 11 points for the Boxers. He was 4 for 7 from the field.

Johnny Verduin (Sr./So., F, Seattle, WA/Ballard HS) was Willamette's top scorer with 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Nico Troplent (Jr., W, Los Angeles, CA/Cathedral HS) and Brendon McCullough (Jr., G, San Antonio, TX/Home Schooled) tacked on 13 points apiece.

Jordan Jenkins (So., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS) provided the Bearcats with seven points and a team-high six rebounds. Willamette blocked six of Pacific's shots during the game, including three blocks by CJ Walker (So., P, Placentia, CA/Mayfair HS), two by Verduin and one by Jenkins.

Pacific held a 15-10 advantage with 13:30 remaining in the first half after Olowo scored on a layup and converted a free throw. There were four ties and seven lead changed in the first 8:20 of the game.

Willamette took a 19-17 lead on a 3-pointer by McCullough with 11:17 on the clock. Hayden Russell (Sr., W, Woodland, CA/Da Vinci Charter Academy) added a 3-pointer just 31 seconds later for a five-point advantage.

The Bearcats stayed in front for the remainder of the half. After the teams exchanged several baskets, WU took a 32-25 margin on a layup by Verduin and a jumper by Walker. A bit later, the Bearcats held a 36-27 lead following a layup by Troplent at the 4:57 mark.

Willamette also led by nine points at halftime. Verduin scored 12 of his points in the first half, while McCullough scored 11. Holly had 10 points at the intermission for Pacific.

The Boxers began the second half with a 13-4 offensive surge that tied the game, 51-51. Olowo scored five points during the run, including the final points on a layup with 13:48 left. Holly broke the tie with a 3-pointer for Pacific with 11:37 to go.

Jenkins hit a jumper for the Bearcats with 10:48 remaining, but Pacific countered with an 8-0 run for a 62-53 lead at the 7:50 mark.

Willamette reduced the margin to 63-58 on a jumper by Verduin with 6:08 on the clock. A dunk by Olowo on an offensive rebound increased Pacific's advantage to 65-58. Olowo tacked on a layup and a foul shot with 4:51 left to give the Boxers a 68-58 lead.

The Boxers shot 49.1% for the game (28 of 57), including 53.3% in the first half (16 of 30) and 44.4% in the second half (12 of 27). Pacific was 3 of 14 on 3-point attempts (21.4%) and went 15 of 24 at the free throw line.  The Boxers ended the game with a 41-23 rebounding edge.

The Bearcats finished at 48.0% from the field (24 of 50), including 5 for 10 on 3-pointers. Willamette converted 9 of 16 free throws (56.3%).

Prior to the game, the Bearcats honored seniors their three seniors: Jared Baumgartner (W, Albany, OR/Crescent Valley HS), Russell and Verduin.

Willamette will complete the season with a game against archrival Linfield College on Saturday, Feb. 18 in McMinnville, Oregon. Game time is set for 6 p.m. (PST).