Troplent Scores 20 Points, Brown Adds 18, as Bearcats Down Pioneers, 71-66

Nico Troplent (So., W, Los Angeles, CA/Cathedral HS)
Nico Troplent (So., W, Los Angeles, CA/Cathedral HS)

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Led by Nico Troplent (So., G, Los Angeles, CA/Cathedral HS) and Alex Brown (Sr., F, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS), Willamette University picked up its second win of the week with a 71-66 victory over Lewis & Clark College on Saturday, Jan. 23. The Bearcats trailed 47-38 with 15:31 left in the game, but took the lead with 8:58 remaining and stayed in front the rest of the way.

Troplent scored 20 points and Brown added 18 points for the Bearcats. Troplent hit 8 of 11 field goals, while Brown was 9 for 11 from the field. Bridger Harlington (Sr., W, Lake Tapps, WA/Auburn Riverside HS) provided 11 points and led the team with three 3-pointers.

The Bearcats achieved a 38-28 rebounding edge, led by Brandon Luedtke (Sr., F. Meridian, ID/Mountain View HS), who grabbed 10 boards to go along with 10 points and four assists. Brendon McCullough (So., G, San Antonio, TX/Home Schooled) hauled down six rebounds.

Willamette defeated George Fox University, 84-71, on Tuesday, Jan. 19. With Saturday's follow-up win, the Bearcats improved to 6-11 on the season and to 3-5 in the NWC. Lewis & Clark fell to 7-9 overall, 3-5 in the NWC.

The Pioneers were led by Jason Luhnow with 24 points on 10 of 18 field goals, including four 3-point baskets. Carl Appleton tacked on 11 points. Jonathan Boddie scored nine points and led the Pioneers with seven rebounds.

Early in the game, the teams were tied three times, but Lewis & Clark put together a 10-3 run to take a 20-13 advantage with 9:31 left in the half. The run featured two 3-pointers, the Pioneer's third and fourth of the game.

The Bearcats moved withiun 24-22 at the 5:45 mark when a 3-point basket by Matt Billingsley-Peeler (So., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) completed a 9-4 run. Troplent scored four points for Willamette during the run.

L&C recorded the next six points to build a 30-22 lead with 4:16 on the clock. Kupa'a Harrison opened the short surge with a 3-point basket

An 8-6 edge for Willamette in the closing minutes of the half kept L&C from increasing its lead.

The teams exchanged baskets three times in the final four minutes, ending with a jumper by Luhnow for the Pioneers with 28.7 seconds left in the half. Brown scored the last two points of the half for WU on a jumper with 12.7 seconds to go.

Lewis & Clark held a 36-30 lead at the intermission. Luhnow tallied 12 points for L&C in the first 20 minutes.

Led by nine additional points from Luhnow, the Pioneers took a 45-36 lead with 16:58 remaining in the game.

A 7-2 run by the Bearcats reduced the margin to 47-43. Brown opened the run with a layup at the end of a fast break that began when Luedtke grabbed a defensive rebound and made a nearly full-court pass. Harlington added a 3-point basket at the 14:54 mark and Trent Callan (Fr., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) put in a layup with 13:03 left.

L&C earned the next four points to reclaim an eight-point lead, before the Bearcats countered with an 11-2 run to power their way to a 54-53 advantage with 8:58 remaining. Troplent added a jumper in the key at the 7:24 mark for a three-point lead.

After a free throw for L&C, Brown scored inside to give Willamette a 58-54 margin as the clock reached 6:47.

The Pioneers scored the next three points to cut the lead to a single point, but L&C was unable to catch the Bearcats. With 4:12 left, WU held just at 62-60 margin, but the Bearcats registered the next six points, including four by Troplent on a jumper and two free throws, for a 68-60 lead with 1:48 to go.

Troplent's free throws started a strong finish for Willamette at the line. The Bearcats sank 5 of 6 free throws in the final 2:15 of the game.

During the second half, the Bearcats hit 16 of 26 field goals for 61.5% accuracy. Willamette was 30 of 56 for the game (53.6%). WU connected on 4 of 14 three-pointers (28.6%). The Bearcats sank 7 of 8 free throws -- all in the last nine minutes.

Lewis & Clark shot 41.9% from the field (26 of 62), but the Bearcats limited the Pioneers to 32.4% in the second half (11 of 34). After making 5 of 12 three-pointers (41.7%) in the first half, L&C converted only 2 of 16 long-range shots in the final 20 minutes to finish 7 for 28 overall (25.0%).

Willamette will travel to Parkland, Washington, for it next game on Friday, Jan. 29 against Pacific Lutheran University. Game time is set for 8 p.m. (PST).