By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director
SALEM, Ore. -- For the Willamette University men's basketball team, Bridger Harlington (Sr., W, Lake Tapps, WA/Auburn Riverside HS) is the long-range expert. He leads the Bearcats with 36 successful 3-point shots on a team-leading 86 attempts. He is shooting a team-high 41.9% from behind the 3-point arc and ranks 10th in the Northwest Conference with 2.0 three-pointers made per game.
"Bridger's ability to stretch defenses with the threat of his shooting is key to everything else we do offensively," Willamette Head Coach Kip Ioane said.
Harlington, who has played in 18 of 19 games this season with 17 starts, has recorded two or more 3-pointers in each of Willamette's past five games. In those games, all against NWC opponents, he connected on 14 of 31 three-pointers for 45.2%.
As a result, he was Willamette's top overall scorer over the five games with 67 points for 13.4 points per contest. He scored in double figures in all five games.
"I have been very happy with his consistency this past month, and look forward to him making more big shots for us down the stretch," Ioane said.
For the season, Harlington's success from 3-point range has helped him average 9.8 points per game. He is a total of just four points short of being Willamette's fifth player averaging in double figures. Even so, he's part of a balanced scoring attack for the Bearcats. Team scoring leader Brandon Luedtke (Sr., F, Meridian, ID/Mountain View HS) is averaging 11.7 points per game.
Also averaging in double figures are Nico Troplent (So., W, Los Angeles, CA/Cathedral HS) at 11.0 points per game, Brendon McCullough (So., G, San Antonio, TX/Home Schooled) at 10.7 and Alex Brown (Sr., F, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) at 10.5.
"Nico and Brendon's drives, Brandon and Alex scoring in the paint, all are easier to accomplish when you know a defender has to step out and account for Bridger on the 3-point line," Ioane commented.
During his career at Willamette, Harlington has gradually moved in to his role as the team's top 3-point shooter. As a freshman in 2012-13, he played in just five games and took only two 3-point shots. As a sophomore, he saw action in 24 games and converted 13 of 37 three-pointers (35.1%).
In 2014-15, he played in all 26 games with 20 starts. He hit 42 of 116 three-point attempts (36.2%), including six games with three or more 3-point baskets.
This year, he has connected on all least three long-range shots in six more times. He made 6 of 7 three-pointers in an 84-71 win over Whittier College (Calif.) on Dec. 29. He scored a career-high 22 points during the game.
Harlington and the Bearcats will take on archrival Linfield College on Friday, Feb. 5. Game time in McMinnville, Oregon, is slated for 8 p.m. (PST). The Bearcats will return home to battle University of Puget Sound on Saturday, Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. in Cone Field House.