By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director
SALEM, Ore. -- Alex Brown (Sr., F, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) scored a career-high 24 points and Willamette University rallied from a 12-point deficit to down Occidental College, 74-68, at Cone Field House on Saturday, Dec. 19. Brown connected on 8 of 11 field goals and made 6 of 8 free throws, including 4 of 6 in the final 33 seconds.
Willamette improved to 2-6 on the season, while ending a six-game losing streak. Occidental fell to 6-2 overall, as its six-game winning streak ended.
The Bearcats held a 4-2 lead after Brown scored his first points of the game on a jumper with 18:24 left in the first half, but Occidental answered with a 19-5 run.
Levy Spencer, who scored a game-high 25 points for the Tigers, earned 10 points -- including two 3-pointers -- during the run. When Kory Hamane hit a 3-point basket with 12:44 left in the half, Occidental led 21-9.
Each team added a layup before Willamette countered with a 7-1 run to pull within 24-18 at the 9:37 mark. Brown and Conin Oishi (So., G, Lake Forest Park, WA/Shorecrest HS) each contributed two points to the offensive surge, while Brendon McCullough (So., G, San Antonio, TX/Home Schooled) added a 3-pointer.
The Tigers received another 3-pointer from Hamane for a 27-18 lead with 6:25 on the clock and remained in front through the end of the half. WU got as close as six points twice, but Occidental owned a 34-24 advantage with 33 seconds left.
Hayden Russell (Jr., W, Woodland, CA/Da Vinci Charter Academy) put in a 3-pointer for the Bearcats with nine seconds to go. Gregory Karapoulios scored on a jumper for Occidental with one second remaining to give the Tigers a 36-27 lead at the break.
Willamette opened the second half with a 15-5 run to take a 42-41 lead. Bridger Harlington (Sr., W, Lake Tapps, WA/Auburn Riverside HS) contributed two 3-pointers, and Alex Brown scored seven points, including a 3-pointer that moved WU in front with 15:04 left.
The score was tied 46-46 with 12:04 on the clock, but WU took control by scoring the next nine points for a 55-46 lead. Brandon Luedtke (Sr., F, Meridian, ID/Mountain View HS) started the run with a layup and Brown finished the outburst with a 3-pointer with 7:54 to go.
Occidental tallied the next four points on a layup by Austin Dewitz and a jumper by Levy. The Bearcats moved out to a 61-51 advantage following a layup by Brown with 4:47 remaining, and claimed a 66-55 lead on a 3-pointer by Russell with 3:22 left.
The Tigers moved within 66-58 before McCullough sank two free throws with 1:28 left. WU made 2 of 4 free throws and committed a turnover during the next 46 seconds. Occidental used an 8-2 run to cut the deficit to 70-66 on a layup by Levy with 36 seconds remaining.
Willamette secured the win by hitting 4 of 6 free throws between the 33-second and 19-second marks. Levy missed a 3-pointer with 13 seconds left for Occidental that would have reduced to lead to three points.
Brown was joined in double figures by McCullough with 13 points and Luedtke with 12 points. Luedtke also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season.
The Bearcats shot 47.8% for the game (22 of 46), including 60.0% in the second half (12 of 20). WU sank 7 of 16 three-pointers (43.8%) and put through 23 of 35 free throws (65.7%).
Levy was one of three Occidental players with double-digit scoring. Andrew Johnson provided 19 points to go along with eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. Jay Miller tacked on 10 points and recorded four steals. Dewitz tied Johnson with a team-leading eight rebounds.
Occidental was held ot 41.0% shooting (25 of 61). The Tigers were 5 of 19 on 3-point shots (26.3%) and made 13 of 23 free throws (56.5%).
Willamette will play again on Sunday, Dec. 20, when the Bearcats will take on nearby rival Western Oregon University. WOU competes in NCAA Division II, while Willamette is a member of NCAA Division III. Game time in Monmouth, Oregon, is set for 2 p.m. (PST).