By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University shot 55.2% from the field and placed five players in double figures to claim victory in the Senior Night game at Cone Field House, 92-84 over Lewis & Clark College in a Northwest Conference men's basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 16. The Bearcats connected on 32 of 58 shots, including 17 of 29 (58.6%) in the second half. Jordan Jenkins (Sr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS) led Willamette with 22 points and 10 rebounds to go with seven assists, one blocked shot and one steal.
Ben Sutton (So., F, Seattle, WA/Ingraham HS) poured in 18 points and was 8 of 11 on field goals. Justus Eaglesmith (So., G, Sparks NV/Spanish Springs HS) made 3 of 5 three-pointers on his way to 12 points for the Bearcats, while Trent Callan (Sr., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) and Jonathan Watts (Fr., G, San Diego, CA/Rancho Bernardo HS) each scored 11 points. Callan matched Jenkins with a game-high seven assists, while Watts hauled down seven rebounds.
The Bearcats finished the season with a 9-16 overall record, including 6-10 in the NWC. Willamette was 8-5 at home and went 7-6 during the final 13 games. Lewis & Clark fell to 8-17 overall, 4-12 in the NWC.
By hitting seven 3-pointers during the game, Willamette set a school record with 248 three-pointers during the season. The Bearcats entered the game tied at 241 with Willamette's 1992-93 NAIA Division II Championship team. WU now competes in NCAA Division III.
"I'm so proud to be able to say our five seniors went out with a 'W'," Willamette Head Coach Kip Ioane said. "For us to turn around after the heartbreak last night (last-second loss at George Fox) and win tonight is a testament to the commitment and perseverance of this group."
Jenkins concluded his four seasons at Willamette with 1,109 career points and 588 career rebounds. He also achieved 219 assists, 62 blocks and 57 steals. This season, he led the NWC in conference games with 22.2 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. Overall, he averaged 20.0 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. He shot 58.4% from the field this season (180 of 308), while hitting 127 of 168 free throws (75.6%).
On Saturday for Lewis & Clark, Zeke Crawford tallied 23 points and Mak Hutson produced 20 points. Crawford was 9 of 14 from the field, while Hutson converted 7 of 14 shots. Nick Lombardi chipped in 10 points. Crawford, Kody Kennedy and Daelon Floyd tied for team-high honors with seven rebounds apiece.
All five seniors -- Callan, Jenkins, Caleb Roberts (Sr., W, Salem, OR/North HS), Jeff Sutherland (Sr., F, Seattle, WA/Seattle Christian HS) and CJ Walker (Sr., P, Placentia, CA/Mayfair HS) -- started for Willamette. The Bearcats controlled the early action with a 9-4 advantage just over four minutes into the game. The Pioneers responded with a 13-6 run to take a 17-15 lead on a free throw by Adrian Romero with 12:12 remaining in the half. The run included one 3-pointer each by Hutson and Ryan Cibull.
Sutton scored next for the Bearcats on a jumper at the 10:59 mark to force the fifth tie of the half. The teams were tied four more times, before WU claimed a 30-28 edge on two free throws by Watt with 4:48 on the clock. The Bearcats held a 33-28 lead after Roberts tacked on a 3-point basket, but L&C went on a 6-0 run to move in front, 34-33, with 2:34 left.
Eaglesmith sank a 3-point basket for Willamette with 2:00 to go, starting an 8-2 run that gave the Bearcats a 41-36 lead. Floyd scored the final points of the half for the Pioneers on a layup with 18 seconds remaining, reducing the led to 41-38.
The second half began with a 13-5 offensive surge by the Bearcats. Jenkins supplied six points during the run, helping Willamette build a 54-43 advantage with 14:02 to play. The Bearcats held at least a seven-point margin the rest of the way, and owned a 71-58 margin following a jumper by Callan with 6:46 on the clock.
Lewis & Clark tallied the next six points to pull within 71-64 on two free throws by Kody Kennedy at the 4:34 mark. Eaglesmith sank 3-pointers with 2:56 and 1:03 to go, and the Bearcats hit 9 of 10 free throws in the final minute, to prevent the Pioneers from mounting a comeback.
WU limited the Pioneers to 42.6% shooting (26 of 61). The Bearcats amassed a 37-34 margin on the glass. Both teams kept control of the ball, as Willamette committed only nine turnovers and L&C lost the ball just six times.
Led by Eaglesmith's three trifectas, the Bearcats shot 41.2% from 3-point range (7 of 17). Lewis & Clark went 9 for 24 (37.5%) on 3-point shots.
Big Moment of the Game for Willamette
Caleb Roberts connected on a 3-point basket to complete
a fast-break and give the Bearcats a 52-43 lead with 14:41
left in the game. Lewis & Clark never got closer than seven
points the rest of the way. Roberts finished the season third
on the team with 41 three-point baskets. The Bearcats set
a school record with 248 three-pointers during the season.