By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- It's been a strong year of quality shots on offense for the Willamette University men's basketball team. The Bearcats lead the Northwest Conference in 3-point shooting at 41.4% and are fourth in the NWC in overall field goal percentage at 48.3%. Willamette is averaging 80.3 points per game.
Leading the way is Jordan Jenkins (Sr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS), the top scorer and rebounder for the Bearcats. Jenkins also ranks fifth in the NWC with 18.8 points per game for the season and is second with 9.5 rebounds per contest. In NWC games, Jenkins leads the conference with 21.1 points per game and is second with 11.1 rebounds per game.
Overall, Jenkins is connecting at 57.8% on field goals, good for eighth in the NWC. He is fifth in the conference in field goal shooting in NWC games at 64.2%.
In four seasons at Willamette, Jenkins has scored 965 career points and has grabbed 511 career rebounds. His career totals also include 189 assists, 58 blocks and 50 steals in 74 games played (65 starts).
Jenkins is often double-teamed, and opponents frequently set up their defenses with stopping him as a priority. Even so, he's scored in double figures in 18 of 19 games, and has recorded 11 double-doubles (10 or more points and 10 or more rebounds in the same game).
Stopping Jenkins has been difficult, not only because of his versatility and skill as an attacking player, but also because several of his teammates are lighting up the scoreboard from 3-point range. It was this combination that recently led the Bearcats to a 95-93 upset win over #5-ranked Whitworth University. Jenkins scored a game-high 23 points against the Pirates, while the Bearcats connected on 12 of 20 three-point shots (60.0%).
In the victory against Whitworth, Justus Eaglesmith (So., G, Sparks NV/Spanish Springs HS) was 4 of 6 from long-range, while Trent Callan (Sr., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) went 3 for 3 and Jonathan Watts (Fr., G, San Diego, CA/Rancho Bernardo HS) finished 3 of 5. Alec Barba (So., W, Dallas, OR/Central HS) was 2 for 3 on 3-pointers. Eaglesmith hit a 3-pointer with 58 seconds left to give Willamette a 91-86 lead, and then sank 4 of 4 free throws in the final 18.7 seconds.
"Justus has a quiet confidence about him that I think enables him to not feel the pressure of big shots," Willamette Head Coach Kip Ioane said.
Eaglesmith ranks first on the team with 47 successful 3-point shots this season. Barba follows with 44 three-pointers, while Caleb Roberts (Sr., W, Salem, OR/North HS) has made 36 three-pointers, Watts has earned 30 and Callan has provided 17.
Watts leads the NWC in 3-point shooting at 55.6% and Eaglesmith is fourth at 49.0%. Callan is shooting 60.7% from 3-point range, but is one 3-pointer short of the minimum required to be listed on the NWC stats. Callan does qualify for the statistical report in field goal shooting and is 11th at 55.1%.
"Trent's 60% clip is a result of not only hours in the gym, but he only takes good shots," Ioane noted. "It is a huge asset for our offense that he makes such good decisions. Caleb and Alec have embraced their roles as floor spacers for us. They know they have to get to certain spots on the floor time and time again and have worked their tails off to not only get there, but make the shots as well."
Willamette's success on field goals and 3-pointers has the Bearcats listed high on the statistical chart for NCAA Division III. The Bearcats are ranked sixth out of 416 teams in 3-point shooting (41.4%) and are 43rd in field goal shooting (48.3%). St. Joseph's College (Maine) leads the country in 3-point shooting at 43.1%.
"Our ability to make shots from deep boils down to two things: guys putting in the time in the gym in the offseason and guys being unselfish and making the right passes during the season," Ioane commented.
The Bearcats are 41st in Division III with an average of 10.1 three-pointers made per game and are 42nd with 192 total 3-pointers made. In addition, Willamette is 75th in assists (305) and 79th in assists per game (16.1).
Individually, Jenkins is 15th in double-doubles, 33rd in defensive rebounds, 39th in free throws made and free throws attempted, 53rd in total rebounds (180), 57th in field goal percentage, and 63rd in rebounds per game. Callan is 71st in assists (175) and Jenkins is 75th (148).
Willamette will return to action on Friday, Feb. 1, when the Bearcats will host Pacific Lutheran University. Game time at Cone Field House is slated for 8 p.m. (PST).