By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director
TACOMA, Wash. -- The University of Puget Sound built a 17-point halftime lead and went on to outscore a short-handed Willamette University squad, 87-54, in Northwest Conference men's basketball action on Friday, Jan. 8. The Loggers upped their record to 7-5 on the season, 2-1 in the NWC. Willamette slipped to 3-9 overall, 0-3 in the NWC.
Starters Alex Brown (Sr., F, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) and Bridger Harlington (Sr., W, Lake Tapps, WA/Auburn Riverside HS) missed the game for Willamette due to illness. Casey Thornton (So., F, Santa Rosa, CA/Maria Carrillo HS) was not available for the Bearcats due to an injury.
Timmy Saunders led Puget Sound with 13 points on 5 of 8 shooting, including 3 of 6 on 3-pointers. Kohl Meyer tacked on 12 points and led all players with 10 rebounds. Andre Lewis and Keith Shattuck each recorded 10 points for the Loggers. Shattuck also hauled down eight rebounds.
Brandon Luedtke (Sr., F, Meridian, ID/Mountain View HS) topped Willamette in scoring with 12 points. Hayden Russell (Jr., W, Woodland, CA/Da Vinci Charter Academy) registered nine points and Brendon McCullough (So., G, San Antonio, TX/Home Schooled) chipped in with eight points.
Willamette led 7-4 just over four minutes into the game, following a 3-pointer by Russell. Puget Sound scored the next eight points -- ending with a 3-pointer from Saunders -- to surge in front, 12-7. The Bearcats trailed just 19-16 at the 10:32 mark, but UPS went on a 7-0 run for a 26-16 margin with 8:09 left in the half.
Two free throws by Matt Billingsley-Peeler (So., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) cut the lead to eight points 26 seconds later, but Willamette never got closer. The Bearcats were within 39-28 after Russell sank a 3-pointer with 2:34 remaining. Puget Sound closed the half with six unanswered points for a 45-28 lead.
Nico Troplent (So., W, Los Angeles, CA/Cathedral HS) scored the first points of the second half on a 3-point shot for the Bearcats, but Puget Sound tallied the next six points for a 51-31 advantage with 16:27 to go. The lead was 22 points with 4:14 remaining, before UPS attained the final margin in the closing minutes.
UPS shot 48.4% for the game (30 of 62). The Loggers hit 9 of 28 shots from 3-point range (32.1%). Willamette shot just 25.0% in the second half (6 of 24) and finished 16 of 52 overall (30.8%). The Bearcats connected on 4 of 20 three-pointers (20.0%).
Luedtke scored 10 of his team-high 12 points in the first half. He picked up his third foul less than three minutes into the second half, and was called for another foul with 11:24 on the clock. He played just 10 minutes in the second half, but did not foul out.
During the game, both teams were 18 for 25 at the free throw line (72.0%). Puget Sound earned a 42-24 rebounding margin and recorded 20 assists on 30 baskets.
Willamette will host archrival Linfield College at Cone Field House on Saturday, Jan. 9. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m. (PST).