By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director
LA VERNE, Calif. -- University of La Verne hit 14 of 27 three-pointers on its way to defeating Willamette University, 90-87, in a non-conference men's basketball game on Saturday, Nov. 21. The Bearcats nearly kept pace with La Verne by connecting on 10 of 25 three-pointers and by rallying in the closing minutes, but the Leopards held on for the win.
La Verne upped its record to 1-2 on the season. Willamette slipped to 1-3 overall.
Brendon McCullough (So., G, San Antonio, TX/Home Schooled) scored a game-high 20 points for the Bearcats. Nico Troplent (So., W, Los Angeles, CA/Cathedral HS) tacked on 16 points, while Bridger Harlington (Sr., W, Lake Tapps, WA/Auburn Riverside HS) and Brandon Luedtke (Sr., F, Meridian, ID/Mountain View HS) chipped in 13 points apiece.
Nicholas Lewis and Cruz Mertens tied for team scoring honors for La Verne with 14 points each. Khaneal Mason registered 13 points and Kendall McClain added 12.
La Verne was in front 85-74 following a layup by Connor Head with 1:56 remaining in the game. The Bearcats pulled within four points with a 7-0 run. A free throw by Matt Billingsley-Peeler (So., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) with 1:06 to go cut the lead to 85-79, and Luedtke added a layup with 50 seconds left to pull within 85-81.
Mason put through a pair of free throws for the Leopards with 36 seconds on the clock. Hakim Arnold made 1 of 2 free throws at the 19-second mark to give La Verne an 88-81 advantage.
Harlington nailed a 3-pointer with six seconds left to cut the margin to 88-84. After Head connected on the second of two free throws one second later, Harlington sank another 3-pointer with two seconds on the clock, pulling WU within 89-87. Mason hit the first of two free throws for La Verne with two seconds to go to end the scoring.
La Verne shot 48.3% from the field (48.3%) and 51.9% on 3-pointers. Willamette was successful on 43.9% of its field goals (29 of 66), including 40.0% from 3-point range.
The game included 51 fouls, with 26 on ULV and 25 on the Bearcats. WU made 19 of 29 free throws (65.5%), while La Verne hit 18 of 31 (58.1%).
McCullough put in 7 of 16 field goals and led Willamette with six assists. Luedtke was 6 for 10 from the field and topped Willamette with seven rebounds. Harlington sank 4 of 4 field goals for the Bearcats, including 3 for 3 on three-point attempts.
Four players -- Troplent, McCullough, Alex Brown (Sr., F, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) and Conin Oishi (So., G, Lake Forest Park, WA/Shorecrest HS) -- each grabbed five rebounds for the Bearcats. Oishi added four assists.
Mertens and McClain each recorded four 3-point baskets for La Verne. Lewis provided three 3-pointers. La Verne earned a 42-39 rebounding margin, led by Mason and three other Leopards with five rebounds apiece. Mason led all players with seven assists.
The Leopards held a 54-45 lead at the end of a high-scoring first half. There were five ties and seven lead changes in the first 20 minutes. After trailing 16-5 just over four minutes into the game, Willamette rallied for a 22-21 lead at the 11:17 mark on a 3-pointer by Hayden Russell (Jr., W, Woodland, CA/Da Vinci Charter Academy).
WU held its largest lead of three points twice, including 34-31 following a free throw by Luedtke with 4:51 on the clock. A 7-0 run put La Verne ahead 38-34 and the Leopards held a 48-40 advantage with 1:37 to go in the half.
McCullough scored the next five points for Willamette on a 3-pointer and a layup, but La Verne countered with two three-pointers by Lewis in the last 30 seconds. The Leopards were 11 of 17 on 3-pointers in the first half, but made only 3 of 10 in the final 20 minutes.
Willamette is set to return to action on Saturday, Nov. 28 with a home game against crosstown rival Corban University. Tipoff at Cone Field House is scheduled for 2 p.m. (PST).