By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- The Willamette University Bearcats went on a 21-2 run early in the second half and went on to defeat visiting Pacific Lutheran University, 85-77, on Friday, Feb. 1 in a Northwest Conference men's basketball game at Cone Field House. The Lutes led 40-39 at halftime and scored the first four points following the break, but the Bearcats responded with the big run for a 60-46 advantage with 12:12 remaining. Jonathan Watts (Fr., G, San Diego, CA/Rancho Bernardo HS) scored 11 of his team-high 20 points during the run, including three 3-point shots.
Willamette has won three of its last four games to up its record to 7-13 overall, 4-7 in the NWC. Pacific Lutheran dropped to 6-13 for the season, 3-8 in the NWC.
Watts' 20 points set a career-high, as he led four Bearcats in double figures. Watts was 7 for 11 on field goals and went 4 for 5 from 3-point range.
Jordan Jenkins (Sr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS) provided 18 points, tied a career-high with 15 rebounds, contributed five assists and registered two steals. Jenkins previously grabbed 15 boards against Lewis & Clark College on Jan. 27, 2018 and against George Fox University on Jan. 19, 2019. He as recorded 12 double-doubles this season. Jenkins has scored 983 points during his Willamette career.
Trent Callan (Sr., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) supplied 17 points, while hitting 4 of 5 field goals and 8 of 10 free throws. Callan also dished out five assists. Ben Sutton (So., F, Seattle, WA/Ingraham HS) tacked on 11 points and five boards.
Conor Geiger topped Pacific Lutheran with a game-high 23 points. He also achieved five rebounds, three assists and one steal. Leighton Kingma and Kelton Williams each scored 19 points for the Lutes. Kingma sank a game-high five 3-pointers, while Geiger made three shots from 3-point range. Thomas Jordan earned nine points, while leading PLU with six boards and three steals. Williams registered six assists.
The second half featured no ties and only one lead change -- when WU's run pushed the Bearcats past the Lutes. In contrast, the first half included 11 ties and 16 lead changes.
PLU took a 19-14 lead on a dunk by Thomas with 12:22 left in the first half. Later, Willamette tied the game at 21-21 on a 3-pointer by Watts with 9:02 to go. Later in the half, Pacific Lutheran led by as many as three points and the Bearcats held one-point and two-point leads. Geiger sank 1 of 2 free throws with 1:11 left to put the Lutes in front 40-39 at halftime.
Willamette's game-changing run began with a layup by Callan at the 18:18 mark to pull the Bearcats within 44-41. Jenkins added a jumper with 17:51 on the clock. Callan tacked on another jumper 26 seconds later to give WU a 45-44 lead following a steal by Caleb Roberts (Sr., W, Salem, OR/North HS). After Watts sank a 3-pointer, the Bearcats held a 48-44 edge.
Geiger scored on a jumper for PLU with 16:09 to go, but a 3-pointer from Watts and a jumper by Jenkins pushed Willamette's advantage to 55-46,. A bit later, the 21-2 run was completed with a layup by Sutton and a 3-pointer by Watts.
Two 3-pointers by Alec Barba (So., W, Dallas, OR/Central HS) of WU at 11:02 and 10:30 prevented PLU from putting together a rally. Barba's second 3-pointer gave the Bearcats a 66-50 lead. The Lutes scored the next eight points to pull within 66-58 at the 8:57 mark, and later reduced WU's lead to 70-63 on a three-point play by Williams at the 6:11 mark.
A jumper by Watts gave Willamette a 74-65 margin with 4:19 left. The Lutes went on a 10-4 run to move within 78-75 on a layup by Geiger with 1:20 remaining, but WU clinched the win at the line. Barba hit three free throws after he was fouled on a 3-point shot with 1:00 to go. Watts put through two charity shots with 34 seconds left, and Callan made 2 of 4 free throws the rest of the way.
Willamette connected on 14 of 23 field goals in the second half (60.9%) to finish the game at 48.1% overall (26 of 54). The Bearcats sank 9 of 19 three-point attempts (47.4%) and went 24 of 29 (82.8%) at the free throw line. Pacific Lutheran shot 45.9% from the field (28 of 61), including 9 of 23 on 3-pointers (39.1%). The Lutes were 12 of 16 on free throws.
The Bearcats grabbed a hugh margin on the glass, as Willamette brought down 43 rebounds compared to 23 for the Lutes. WU registered 15 offensive boards and gained a 14-7 advantage in second-change points. The Bearcats claimed a 22-5 edge in bench scoring.
Up next for Willamette is a game against archrival Linfield College on Saturday, Feb. 2 in McMinnville, Oregon. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. (PST).
Big Moment of the Game for Willamette
The Big Moment could go to any of several Willamette players
for their efforts during the Bearcats' 21-2 offensive surge to take
control of the game in the second half. The honors goes to freshman
guard Jonathan Watts, who scored on three 3-point shots during
the run. He contributed 11 of the 21 points in the run, and finished
the game with a career-high 20 points.