The first NAIA national championship athletic team at Willamette, these Bearcats won the Northwest Conference, NAIA District II and the NAIA Division II National titles while finishing with a WU all-time best 29-4 record. In addition, they won three of five pre-season tournaments. Head coach Gordie James was named Coach of the Year for District II and NAIA Division II. The team ended the season with a No. 3 national ranking and was undefeated in 14 games in Cone Field House.
The team was deep and strong in all phases of the game, but the primary reasons for their success at the national tournament were defense and balance. With intelligent and aggressive play, they held their four tournament opponents to 40 percent shooting and almost 24 points below their season scoring average. Their opponent in the championship game, Northern State University, was held to 56 points, 38 points below their average.