By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Both teams shot extremely well, but Concordia University (Texas) outscored Willamette University 42-9 in points off turnovers, as the Tornados downed the Bearcats, 117-90, in a non-conference men's basketball game on Friday, Nov. 16 during the Whitman Invitational at Whitman College. Willamette shot 59.6% from the field (34 of 57) and hit 15 of 26 three-pointers (57.7%), while Concordia sank 57.4% of its field goals (39 of 68) and made 13 of 27 shots from 3-point range (48.1%).
Joe Neal led the Tornados with 33 points on 10 of 17 shooting, includng 3 of 6 from 3-point range, plus 10-of-12 shooting at the free throw line. Concordia put through 26 of 37 free throws (70.3%). Willamette converted 7 of 15 at the line (46.7%).
Concordia placed seven players in double figures. In addition to Neal's big night, the Tornados received 14 points each from Ephriam Price III and from Maluw Deng. Phil Meilke tacked on 13 points. The Tornados forced Willamette into 26 turnvoers, while Concordia lost the ball just eight times.
Caleb Roberts (Sr., W, Salem, OR/North HS) scored 15 points for Willamette to top four Bearcats in double figures. Roberts also led Willamette's three-point success, as he connected on 5 of 9 long-range shots. Jordan Jenkins (Sr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS) and Justus Eaglesmith (So., G, Sparks NV/Spanish Springs HS) each tacked on 14 points. Alec Barba (So., W, Dallas, OR/Central HS) finished with 11 points.
"Concordia's pressure defense was as advertised," Willamette Head Coach Kip Ioane said. "They were exceptional. I was encouraged by some things we did, especially the shooting performance, but we have to take better care of the ball."
Both teams put up more than 50 points in the first half as Concordia claimed a 64-51 lead.
Willamette shot 63.0% during the half by connecting on 17 of 27 shots. The Bearcats sizzled from 3-point range over the first 20 minutes, hitting 11 of 14 long-range attempts for a staggering 78.6%. Concordia shot 59.5% in the first half, as the Tornados made five more baskets on 10 more attempts (22 of 37). The Tornados were 8 of 16 on first half 3-point shots.
The Bearcats trailed 7-3 with 17:46 left in the half, but answered with a 23-9 run. WU's offensive explosion gave the Bearcats a 26-16 lead after a 3-pointer by Barba at the 12:39 mark. It was Willamette's sixth 3-pointer of the game.
Concordia rallied from a 38-31 deficit with 8:01 left in the half to take a 46-43 lead on a 3-pointer by Deng with 5:02 remaining. The Bearcats were behind by just two points at 51-49 with 2:32 on the clock, but the Tornados closed the half with a 13-2 run.
At the start of the second half, Roberts sank a 3-pointer to pull Willamette within 64-54. The Tornados countered with 12 unanswered points to increase their lead to 76-54 with 17:39 to play. Concordia's run began with a 3-pointer by Neal. After Ronnie Hamilton added a layup, Neal tacked on another 3-pointer. He then added a layup and put through two free throws to complete the 12-0 surge. Willamette never got closer than 19 points the rest of the way.
Willamette's game against Concordia was the only game for the Bearcats at the Whitman Invitational. The Bearcats will take on Portland State University on Saturday, Nov. 17 in Portland, Oregon. It will be an exhibition game for Willamette and a regular season game for Portland State. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. (PST).
Big Moment of the Game for Willamette
Alec Barba completed a 23-9 run by the Bearcats with a 3-pointer at
the 12:39 mark of the first half to give Willamette a 26-16 lead.
It was Barba's first 3-pointer of the game and the sixth 3-pointer
of the night for the Bearcats. WU sank 11 of 14 long-range shots
during the first half (78.6%) and finished the game 15 of 26 on
3-pointers. Caleb Roberts was 5 for 9 on 3-pointers, while
Justus Eaglesmith was 4 for 5 and Barba was 3 for 5.