By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
TACOMA, Wash. -- In a Northwest Conference battle on Saturday, Jan. 5, Pacific Lutheran University moved in front for good with 2:46 remaining and held off Willamette University for a 70-64 victory at Olson Gymnasium. PLU owned a 64-58 lead with 1:40 left, but Willamette pulled within 66-64 on a 3-pointer by Jonathan Watts (Fr., G, San Diego, CA/Rancho Bernardo HS) with 29 seconds to go. The Lutes sank 4 of 6 free throws the rest of the way to secure the win.
PLU improved to 5-7 on the season, including 2-2 in the NWC. Willamette fell to 2-10 overall, 0-4 in the NWC.
Jordan Jenkins (Sr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS) provided another monster game for the Bearcats, as he earned a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds. He was 7 for 10 from the field, supplied teammates with three assists and blocked four of PLU's shots. Jenkins has scored 20 or more points in eight of Willamette's last 10 games. He has increased his career totals to 831 points and 438 rebounds.
Ben Sutton (So., F, Seattle, WA/Ingraham HS) added 12 points for Willamette. Watts and Justus Eaglesmith (So., G, Sparks NV/Spanish Springs HS) each scored 10 points. Watts also provided five rebounds, five assists and a steal, while Eaglesmith supplied two assists and a team-high two steals. Watts hit a trio of 3-point baskets and Eaglesmith made a pair of 3-pointers. Ryan Peterson (So, P, Edmonds, WA/Edmonds-Woodway HS) contributed eight points and was 4 for 5 from the field.
Carlton Brown paced the PLU attack with 22 points. He registered five assists, three rebounds and two steals. He was 8 for 8 at the free throw line, including two with 37 seconds left and two with 27 seconds to go. Jordan Thomas produced 15 points and nine rebounds. Zac Webb scored 15 points and grabbed six boards. Leighton Kingma achieved nine points, seven boards and two blocked shots.
The Lutes surged out to an 8-0 lead on a run that began and ended with layups by Thomas. Willamette answered with a layup from Jenkins and a jumper by Sutton. A bit later, WU pulled within 10-8 on a layup by Jenkins with 11:05 left in the half. The Lutes led 18-9 at the 8:32 mark and held a 24-13 advantage after a layup by Webb with 5:46 remaining.
Willamette cut the margin to 26-23 when Watts sank a 3-point shot with 3:28 on the clock. The Lutes outscored the Bearcats 8-3 to close the half, giving PLU a 34-26 lead. At halftime, Jenkins had 12 points and Webb had 10 points.
Pacific Lutheran led by 10 points two times early in the second half, but a 6-0 run by the Bearcats, ending with a fast-break layup for Ryan Peterson (So, P, Edmonds, WA/Edmonds-Woodway HS), pulled the Bearcats within 38-34. A layup scored by Kingma provided PLU with a 45-36 advantage at the 14:43 mark, before Willamette fought back and reduced the lead to 46-43 on a jumper by Eaglesmith with 13:12 to play.
The Bearcats were within 51-49 following a layup by Sutton as the clock reached 8:45. Willamette tied the game 27 seconds later on a layup by Jenkins. Another layup, this time by Eaglesmith on a fast-break, pushed Willamette in front, 54-53, with 8:03 remaining. Eaglesmith set up the basket by stealing the ball from Kelton Williams.
Later, Eaglesmith put through a 3-pointer that tied the game at 58-58 with 4:12 left. The next six points were recorded by the Lutes, starting with a layup from Webb with 2:46 left and ending with a jumper by Brown with 1:40 to go.
Jenkins added a layup for WU 15 seconds later. Watts made 1 of 2 free throws with 0:42 left to cut the margin to 64-61. Brown sank two free throws for PLU before Watts hit the 3-pointer that pulled Willamette within 66-64. Brown added two free throws at the 27-second mark. Nasseen Guiterrez-Orozco and Webb each added one free throw for the Lutes.
During the game, PLU gained an edge with nine more free throw attempts. The Bearcats were called for one more foul that the Lutes (20-19), but Pacific Lutheran went 16 for 24 at the line, while Willamette was 9 of 15. The Bearcats shot 43.9% from the field (25 of 57) and hit 5 of 19 on 3-pointers (26.3%). PLU was 26 of 63 on field goals (41.3%), including 2 for 9 from 3-point range. Willamette outrebounded the Lutes, 41-34.
The Bearcats will take on NWC rival Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, on Tuesday, Jan. 8. Game time is slated for 8 p.m. (PST).
Big Moment of the Game for Willamette
With 29 seconds left in the game, Jonathan Watts sank a
3-pointer for the Bearcats to cut Pacific Lutheran's lead to
66-64. The Lutes went on to win the game, but Watts
scored 10 points, grabbed five rebounds, provided five
assists and earned one steal. He led Willamette with three
3-point baskets. Watts is averaging 10.3 points per game
and is shooting 58.6% from 3-point range (17 of 29).