Warriors Rally from 47-41 Deficit with 16:27 Left to Defeat Bearcats, 76-67

Trent Callan (Sr., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS)
Trent Callan (Sr., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University led Corban University 34-26 at halftime, and the Bearcats held a 47-41 lead with 16:27 to go, but the Warriors rallied for a 76-67 victory in a crosstown rivalry game in men's basketball at the C.E. Jeffers Center on Thursday, Dec. 6.

Corban took the lead for good at 53-50 on layup by Joel Johnson with 12 minutes left and built a nine-point lead before Willamette pulled back within 65-61 with 6:23 remaining. The Warriors gained momentum when Johnson scored on a dunk at the 5:11 mark, sparking an 11-6 run by Corban to end the game. The Warriors advanced their record to 9-2. Willamette dropped to 0-7.

The Warriors compete in the NAIA and the Cascade Collegiate Conference. Willamette is a member of NCAA Division III and the Northwest Conference.

Willamette limited Corban to 24.4% shooting in the first half (10 of 41). The Bearcats led 17-10 after Alec Barba (So., W, Dallas, OR/Central HS) hit a 3-point shot with 11:01 remaining in the half. Corban scored the next seven points and tied the game at 17-17 on a layup by Johnson. Corban also knotted the score at 19-19 and again at 22-22 on a 3-pointer by AJ Hodges with 6:46 on the clock.

The Bearcats surged into halftime with a 12-4 run. Willamette's run included jumpers by Trent Callan (Sr., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS), Jonathan Watts (Fr., G, San Diego, CA/Rancho Bernardo HS) and Jordan Jenkins (Sr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS) plus 4 for 4 free throws by Callan and 2 for 2 free throws by CJ Walker (Jr., P, Placentia, CA/Mayfair HS).

"Our first half is exactly who we can be," Willamette Head Coach Kip Ioane said. "When we get fully healthy (we are missing three players), we will have a chance to be that team consistently."

Corban reduced its eight-point deficit to a single point two times in the first 1:28 of the second half, but the Bearcats grabbed a 45-39 lead on a 3-pointer by Justus Eaglesmith (So., G, Sparks NV/Spanish Springs HS) at the 16:54 mark. Jaxon Hughes of Corban and Jenkions of Willamette exchanged layups, keeping Wilalmette in front by six ponts at 47-41.

Just 13 seconds later at the 16:14 mark, foul trouble became a problem for the Bearcats when Jenkins was called for his fourth personal foul. Callan soon picked up his third foul. As a result, WU's top two scorers for the season went to the bench.

The Warriors scored eight consecutive points, ending with a 3-pointer by Chandler Cavell, to take a 49-47 advantage. The first five points of the run were scored before Callan returned to the court. After Cavell's 3-pointer, Callan answered with a traditional three-point play to give Willamette a 50-49 edge.

Corban regained the lead at 51-50 on a jumper by Jaxon Hughes with 13:24 to go. The basket opened a 12-2 run that gave the Warriors a 61-52 lead with 9:35 left.

Jenkins, who returned to the court during Corban's run, sank a layup with 8:36 left and tacked on another layup with 7:33 remaining, as Willamette cut the margin to 61-56.  A bit later, WU trailed just 65-61 after Watts connected on a 3-pointer. Johnson's dunk for Corban followed to begin a short 6-0 spurt for the Warriors, and the Bearcats never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.

Each team placed four players in double figures. Jenkins led the way for WU with 20 points, six assists and three rebounds. He has scored 20 or more points in three consecutive games and has earned double-digit scoring in all seven games. Callan added 14 points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Watts and Eaglesmith each scored 12 points for the Bearcats, with Watts hitting 5 of 6 field goals (2 for 2 on 3-pointers) and Eaglesmith putting through 4 of 8 shots -- all from 3-point range. Watts also hauled down six rebounds. The Bearcats shot 41.4% from the field (24 of 58) and made 8 of 27 three-point tries (29.6%). Corban was 29 of 69 on field goals (42.0%), including 8 of 23 on 3-pointers (34.8%). The Warriors gained a 41-40 rebounding edge.

Hodges topped the Warriors with 19 points, including three 3-point baskets. Beau Roggenbach provided CU with a double-double, as he scored 10 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. Hughes produced 11 points and Jonson ended the game with 10 points. Tyler Wadleigh led all players with seven assists to go along with eight points.

Willamette will take on Portland Bible on Friday, Dec. 7 at Cone Field House. Game time is set for 7 p.m. (PST).

Justus Eaglesmith (So., G, Sparks NV/Spanish Springs HS)

Big Moment of the Game for Willamette

Justus Eaglesmith continued his strong 3-point shooting, as he
went 4 for 8 from long-range against the Warriors. He scored
three of his trifectas in just over two minutes during the first half.
He hit one 3-pointer with 13:48 on the clock, added another at
the 12:11 mark, and completed the trio with 11:44 remaining in
the half. The third 3-pointer gave Willamette a 14-7 lead.