By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director
SALEM, Ore. -- Southern Oregon University hit 8 of 15 three-point shots in the first half to build a 55-32 lead, and then held off Willamette University for an 96-84 win at Cone Field House on Saturday, Nov. 14. Southern Oregon, which competes in the NAIA, upped its record to 4-1. Willamette, which competes in NCAA Division III, fell to 1-1 on the season.
The Raiders shot 63.3% (19 of 30) from the field in the first half, while holding the Bearcats to 39.3% (11 of 28).
Willamette stepped up its defensive presence in the second half, reducing SOU's success to 48.4% from the field (15 of 31) and just 4 for 13 (30.8%) on 3-pointers. The Bearcats shot 46.2% (18 of 39) over the final 20 minutes.
WU rallied to within six points at 73-67 following a pair of free throws by Nico Troplent (So., W, Los Angeles, CA/Cathedral HS) with 7:43 left in the game. The Raiders scored the next seven points for an 80-67 advantage with 5:51 to go.
The Bearcats reduced the lead to eight points, 80-72, with 5:04 remaining at the end of a 5-0 run. Southern Oregon responded with a 7-0 run of its own. Willamette was unable to get back within single digits during the rest of the game.
Ben DeSaulnier of SOU led all players with 28 points. He hit 9 of 12 field goals, including 4 of 6 three-pointers. He was 6 of 7 at the free throw line. He also earned eight rebounds, four assists and two steals. Jordan West added 19 points and six boards.
Joel Spear and Clay Sierra each scored 14 points for the Raiders. Sierra also grabbed eight boards. Justin Martin contributed 13 points for SOU.
DeSaulnier piled up 22 of his points in the first half by connecting on 7 of 8 field goals (3 of 4 three-pointers) and 5 of 5 free throws.
Willamette's top scorer was Troplent with 24 points on 7 of 14 shooting. He sank 4 of 9 three points and made 6 of 7 free throws. Brandon Luedtke (Sr., F, Meridian, ID/Mountain View HS) finished with 15 points, five boards, two assists and a steal.
Also for WU, Brendon McCullough (So., G, San Antonio, TX/Home Schooled) tallied 14 points and three assists. Bridger Harlington (Sr., W, Lake Tapps, WA/Auburn Riverside HS) scored nine points and led the Bearcats with three steals.
Alex Brown (Sr., F, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) also chipped in nine points. Dylan Critchfield (So., P, Broomfield, CO/Standley Lake HS) grabbed a team-high six rebounds to go along iwth six points.
Southern Oregon achieved a 38-35 rebunding margin. The Raiders forced 14 turnovers by Willamette, but SOU committed 13 turnovers. Willamette gained an edge at the free throw line, hitting 19 of 25 shots (76.0%), while the Raiders went 16 for 23 (69.6%).
The Bearcats will play two games in Southern California next weekend, starting with a match-up against Chapman University in Orange, California, on Friday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. (PST). The Bearcats will complete the trip against University of La Verne on Saturday, Nov. 21 in La Verne, California, at 7 p.m.