By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Nico Troplent (Sr., W, Guadaloupe, France/Cathedral HS) tied a career-high with 24 points and completed a double-double by grabbing 10 rebounds to lead Willamette University to a solid 83-67 win over Pacific University on Saturday, Jan. 13 at Cone Field House. Troplent also proved the Bearcats with five assists and two steals. He was 7 of 13 on field goals, including two 3-pointers, and went 8 for 8 at the free throw line.
The victory was Willamette's second win in as many nights. On Friday, the Bearcats pounded Pacific Lutheran 80-49 in Tacoma, Washington. Willamette is 8-7 overall and 3-3 in the Northwest Conference. Pacific dropped to 8-7 on the season, 2-4 in the NWC.
Troplent scored 10 points in the first half, including eight in the final eight minutes. He added 14 points in the second half. His game total matched his 24 points against Southern Oregon University on Nov. 14, 2015. Troplent has registered 862 points in his four seasons as a Bearcat, and has earned 367 rebounds.
"Nico was phenomenal tonight", Willamette Head Coach Kip Ioane said.
Jordan Jenkins (Jr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS) and Brendon McCullough (Sr., G, San Antonio, TX/Home Schooled) also reached double figures in scoring for the Bearcats. Jenkins chipped in 15 points and was 6 of 9 from the field. McCullough earned 12 points, two assists and three steals. Casey Thornton (Sr., W, Santa Rosa, CA/Maria Carrillo HS) aded eight points, while Ben Sutton (Fr., F, Seattle, WA/Ingraham HS) provided eight rebounds.
Willamette shot 51.4% in the first half (18 of 35) and finsihed the game at 47.5% (29 of 61). The Bearcats converted 8 of 21 three-point shots (29.4%0.
Pacific received 18 points and six rebounds from Nate Olowo. Davis Holly contributed 14 points, while Chris Evans recorded 10 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots. Nick Eden scored nine points and was 6 for 6 at the free throw line. The Boxers shot well in the opening minutes, but slipped to 35.6% for the game. Pacific connected on 21 of 59 field goals, including 5 of 17 (29.4%) from 3-point range.
Both teams did well at the free throw line. Willamette sank 17 of 20 charity shots (85.0%), while Pacific made 20 of 24 shots from the line.
"The weekend was a testament to what we are capable of as a group," Ioane commented. "Our guys level of trust with one another on the floor is at an all-time high.
The early minutes of the game features strong shooting by the Bearcats and the Boxers. Pacific owned an 18-16 edge after Willamette scored on a layup by Dylan Critchfield (Sr., P, Broomfield, CO/Standley Lake HS) with 11:26 left in the half. The Boxers surged out to a 21-16 lead on a jumper by R.J. Collins, a free throw by Brevin Brown. A bit later, Pacific took a 25-20 advantage on two free throws by Olowo at the 9:40 mark.
Willamette outscored Pacific 24-6 over the remainder of the half. A 3-pointer by Jameson Willems (Jr./So., F, Billings, MT/Skyview HS) with 7:20 on the clock tied the scored at 27-27. It was the fifth tie of the half. Troplent put in a layup on Willamette's next possession to give the Bearcats the lead for good. The lead reached double-digits at 38-27 on a layup by Sutton with 3:34 left. Willamette owned a 44-31 advantage at halftime.
Pacific cut the margin to nine points twice in the first three minutes of the second half, including 48-39 on a 3-pointer by Holly with 17:06 to play. The Bearcats responded with a 20-6 run to claim a 68-45 lead with 11:49 to play. The run began with a 3-pointer by Troplent, and later featured two 3-pointers by Thornton.
The Boxers fought back to get as close as 70-55 on a layup by Olowo with 7:15 to go. Pacific pulled within 15 points three more times, including 79-54 with 2:46 left, but never moved closer.
Willamette gained a 43-30 rebounding edge. Troplent's 10 boards and Sutton's eight led the way. Each team registered double-digit offensive boards, as the Bearcats grabbed 15 and the Boxers earned 11. WU finished the game with an 18-8 lead in second-chance points and a 38-16 advantage in the paint. The Bearcats also claimed a 23-8 lead in bench scoring.
Up next for the Bearcats is a match-up with Whitworth University at Cone Field House on Friday, Jan. 19. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. (PST). Willamette also will play at home on Saturday, Jan. 20 against Whitman College at 6 p.m. Both opponents are ranked in the D3hoops.com Top 25 Poll, with Whitman at #1 and Whitworth at #3.