By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
TACOMA, Wash. -- Jordan Jenkins (Jr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS) scored a career-high 21 points on 8 of 9 shooting to lead Willamette University to an 80-49 victory over Pacific Lutheran University on Friday, Jan. 12. Jenkins also provided five rebounds, six assists and two blocked shots for the Bearcats. The Northwest Conference win improved the Bearcats to 7-7 overall and to 2-3 in the NWC. Pacific Lutheran slipped to 4-9 overall, 1-4 in the NWC.
The Bearcats won by playing well at both ends of the court, especially on defense in the first half and on offense in the second half.
PLU was limited to just 25.9% shooting from the field (7 of 27) in the first half. Meanwhile, Willamette connected on 46.7% of its shots (14 of 30) on its way to a 35-23 halftime lead. In the second half, WU amped up the offense to 58.1% on field goals (18 of 31) to finish the game at 52.5% overall. The Lutes shot 45.5% (10 of 22) over the final 20 minutes, but couldn't keep up with Willamette's offensive success.
Nico Troplent (Sr., W, Los Angeles, CA/Cathedral HS) earned 13 points and sank 3 of 5 three-pointers to join Jenkins in double figures for the Bearcats. Brendon McCullough (Sr., G, San Antonio, TX/Home Schooled) added eight points. Willamette received at least two points from 11 players.
Jenkins' previous career high was 19 points, which he recorded in two games. He scored 19 against St. John's University (Minn.) on Nov. 25, 2016, and matched that total against Lewis & Clark College earlier this season on Dec. 1.
Sean McLaughlin topped the Lutes with 19 points and was 9 for 10 on field goals. Kelton Williams finished with 10 points. McLaughlin and Williams each latched onto a team-high five rebounds. Williams also registered three steals.
The Bearcats amassed 28 assists, led by a career-high nine assists from Trent Callan (Jr., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS). Callan also grabbed five rebounds to match Jenkins for team-high honors. Other Bearcats with multiple assists were Jenkins with six and Troplent and McCullough with four apiece. The 28 assists tied for sixth all-time for the Bearcats, matching five other games. The school record is 39 against Southern Oregon University on Dec. 7, 1990.
"Anytime you have 28 assists, you know it was the definition of a team win," Willamette Head Coach Kip Ioane said. "It was so fun to see our guys not only win, but really enjoy each other's performances all game long."
Willamette outscored the Lutes 32-24 in the paint and 23-12 in points off turnovers. PLU lost the ball 17 times -- 10 on steals by the Bearcats, including three each by Callan and Troplent. WU committed just 11 turnovers.
A total of six Bearcats made at least one 3-point shot, helping Willamette finish 11 of 30 from behind the arc (36.7%). The Lutes hit 2 of 9 three-point attempts (22.2%).
The game began with a 9-0 run by Willamette. Jenkins scored the first four points and then Nathan Sherfey (Sr., F, Chehalis, WA/W.F. West HS) added a 3-pointer. Jenkins completed the surge with a layup as the clock reached 16:40. Pacific Lutheran cut the margin to a single point at 11-10 following a pair of free throws by Williams with 13:40 left in the half.
PLU pulled within one point three more times before the Lutes took a 20-18 lead on a 3-pointer by James Kyle at the 7:46 mark. Williams scored next for PLU less than a minute later, but a layup by Jenkins and a 3-pointer by Troplent moved Willamette in front 23-22 with 5:40 to go and started a 17-1 run by the Bearcats to close the half. Jenkins led all players with 12 points at halftime.
The Bearcats put through the first 16 points of the second half to take command of the game with a 51-23 lead. Willamette's combined run, including the end of the first half, was 33-1. The string at the start of the second half included one 3-pointer each from Sherfey and Troplent. PLU got as close as 24 points at 58-34 with 7:49 remaining.
Willamette will make a quick return to NWC action, as the Bearcats are scheduled to host Pacific University on Saturday, Jan. 13. Game time at Cone Field House is set for 6 p.m. (PST).