By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
TACOMA, Wash. -- Willamete University rallied from a 13-point deficit in the second half to take a 72-71 lead with 2:06 remaining, but University of Puget Sound scored the next five points and held on for an 83-79 victory over the Bearcats on Friday, Feb. 2. The win at Memorial Fiedlhouse upped Puget Sound's record to 13-6 overall and to 6-5 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette fell to 9-12 on the season, 4-8 in the NWC.
Jimmy Wohrer of Puget Sound led all players with 22 points. He was 5 of 13 from the field and hit 10 of 10 free throws. Stellan Roberts added 11 points for the Loggers. Zion Shepherd scored seven points to go along with five rebounds, four blocked shots and four steals.
Willamette's Jordan Jenkins (Jr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS) produced 16 points and 11 rebounds. He converted 8 of 10 attempts at the free throw line. It was his fourth double-double of the season, including three in the last four games. Nico Troplent (Sr., W, Guadaloupe, France/Cathedral HS) recorded 15 points, eight boards and four assists. Nathan Sherfey (Sr., F, Chehalis, WA/W.F. West HS) supplied 14 points, hit three 3-point shots, and contributed nine rebounds. Willamette outebounded Puget Sound, 51-29, including a 22-9 margin in offensive boards. Puget Sound forced 25 turnovers by the Bearcats, while the Loggers lost possession 17 times.
"Our defense was excellent," Willamette Head Coach Kip Ioane said. "By holding them almost 20 points below their average, we gave ourselves a chance to win with a minute to go. Fifty-one bounds and 22 offensive boards were huge factors in allowing us to hang with the Loggers until the end. Our guys left everything on the court tonight. We just cam up one possession short."
Puget Sound held a 53-40 lead after completing a 12-1 run to turn a slim two-point margin into a 13-point advantage. The final seven points of the run were scored on two baskets by Zach Gelacio and a 3-pointer by Wohrer with 14:36 left in the game.
The teams exchanged points for several minutes, leaving the Loggers with a 59-46 edge with 9:45 remaining. Willamette began its rally with a 6-0 run ending with a 3-pointer by Trent Callan (Jr., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) with 8:29 to go. Roberts answered with a 3-pointer for Puget Sound 20 seconds later, giving the home team a 62-52 lead. The Bearcats earned the next five points to get within 62-57 on a traditional three-point play by Jenkins at the 7:15 mark.
Walker Shibley-Styer added one free throw for Puget Sound, before WU completed its comeback with seven unanswered points. A free throw by Troplent gave WU a 64-63 advantage with 4:56 left. The game was tied thre times before Willamette took its final lead at 72-71 when Jenkins sank the first of two free throws with 2:06 to go.
Shibley-Styer put through a 3-pointer for the Loggers nine seconds later to give Puget Sound a 74-72 edge. The Bearcats committed turnovers on their next two possessions. Wohrer hit two free throws with 42 seconds left, as the Loggers grabbed a 76-72 lead.
Willamette cut the margin to 76-74 on a pair of free throws by McCullough with 33 seconds left, and also pulled within two points at 78-76 on a jumper by Troplent at the 21-second mark. Puget Sound made 3 of 4 free throws over the next 14 seconds to gain an 81-76 edge. Troplent hit a 3-pointer for WU with two seconds on the clock, and Wohrer completed the scoring with two free throws for Puget Sound one second later.
The first half began with four consecutive points for the Loggers, and Puget Sound remained in the lead until halftime. Even so, the Loggers held just an 8-7 margin with 15:21 left following a jumper by WU's Casey Thornton (Sr., W, Santa Rosa, CA/Maria Carrillo HS). Later, Puget Sound's lead was just 13-10 after Thornton hit two free throws at the 10:40 mark.
Puget Sound eventually grabbed a 20-10 lead on a jumper with 9:20 to go in the half. Willamette got as close as 20-18 on a jumper by Troplent just over two minutes later. A 3-pointer by Max Basile gave Puget Sound a 27-18 lead with 5:59 left. The Loggers owned a 35-30 advantage at halftime.
For the game, Puget Sound shot 45.0% (27 of 60), while Willamette shot 40.0% (26 of 65). The Loggers were 7 of 21 on 3-pointers (33.3%). Willamette connected on just 5 of 22 shots (22.2%) from behind the arc. The Bearcats were slightly better at the free throw line, hitting 22 of 30 attempts (73.3%), while the Loggers were 22 of 32 (68.8%).
Willamette has played four games in the past eight days. The Bearcats will not return to action until Friday, Feb. 9, when they will take on the Boxers of Pacific University. Tipoff in Forest Grove, Oregon, is slated for 8 p.m. (PST).