Troplent Scores 22 Points, McCullough Adds 21, as Bearcats Down Loggers, 100-89

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

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director

SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University sophomores Nico Troplent (W, Los Angeles, CA/Cathedral HS) and Brendon McCullough (G, San Antonio, TX/Home Schooled) combined to score 43 points, as the Bearcats outscored the University of Puget Sound, 100-89, on Saturday, Feb. 6 at Cone Field House. Troplent piled up 22 points on 7 of 9 field goals, including four 3-pointers. McCullough tacked on 21 points, while going 4 for 4 from the field and 11 for 15 at the line.

The Northwest Conference victory improved the Bearcats to 7-14 overall, 4-8 in the NWC. Puget Sound dropped to 12-9 overall and to 7-5 in the conference. Kyle King was the top scorer for the Loggers with 23 points.

It was Willamette's first 100-point game since defeating D'Youville College (N.Y.), 108-101, on Nov. 18, 2011. The Bearcats reached the century mark in an NWC game for the first time since falling to George Fox University, 117-100, on Jan. 25, 2011. Willamette's last NWC victory with at least 100 points was a 105-93 win against Linfield College exactly six years ago on Feb. 6, 2010.

Each team featured five players who contributed double-digit scoring.

For Willamette, Troplent and McCullough were joined by Brandon Luedtke (Sr., F, Meridian, ID/Mountain View HS), Conin Oishi (So., G, Lake Forest Park, WA/Shorecrest HS), and Bridger Harlington (Sr., W, Lake Tapps, WA/Auburn Riverside HS).

Luedtke recorded his eighth double-double of the season with 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Oishi scored a career-high 14 points, as he reached double figures for the first time. Harlington tacked on 10 points.

Alex Brown (Sr., F, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) scored seven points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Bearcats.

Willamette shot 57.7% for the game (30 of 52), including 69.6% (16 of 23) in the second half. The Bearcats recorded a 38-27 rebounding margin.

Joining King in double figures for UPS were Kohl Meyer, Carlos Mancasola, Andre Lewis, and Kendall Schmidt. Meyer, Mancasola and Lewis each tallied 14 points, while Schmidt earned 12. Meyer led the Loggers with 10 rebounds.

The first half included four ties and nine lead changes. Two of the ties and three of the lead changes were in the first eight minutes. When the teams paused for the game's second media timeout with 11:28 on the clock, Willamette owned a 17-14 advantage.

Puget Sound gained a 20-19 lead a bit later, when Lewis hit two free throws at the 8:27 mark. The Bearcats moved back in front on a layup by Harlington with 7:22 remaining in the half.

There were four more lead changes in just over a minute of playing time. WU claimed a 25-24 advantage following a layup by Luedtke, assisted by Oishi, with 6:12 left.

Willamette maintained the lead and increased it to 40-32 when Harlington sank 2 of 3 free throws after being fouled on a 3-point shot with 1:58 on the clock. The Bearcats owned a 45-39 advantage at the start of the second half.

The Loggers reduced the margin to a single point at 51-50 on a jumper by Lewis with 16:17 to go. WU responded with a 7-0 run, ending with a basket and a foul shot by McCullough.

Puget Sound trailed 61-52 before scoring five consecutive points to get as close as four-points with 12:16 left. Willamette took a double-digit lead at 75-65 on a 3-pointer by Troplent at the 8:45 mark, and later held a 90-72 margin following a 3-pointer by Oishi with 4:47 to go.

Even so, Puget Sound threatened to get back into the game. The Loggers earned the next five points, and eventually pulled within 92-82 on a layup by King as the clock hit 2:21.

McCullough sank two free throws and Luedtke added a jumper, as the lead reached 96-82 with 1:32 remaining. Willamette's 100th was scored by McCullough on the second of two free throws for a 100-87 lead with 28 seconds left.

Puget Sound connected on 47.8% of its field goals (32 of 67), including 51.4% (18 of 35) in the second half. The Loggers made just 4 of 20 three-point attempts (20.0%).

The game included 51 fouls and 67 free throws. Willamette hit 29 of 37 free throws (78.4%), while UPS went 21 for 30 at the line (70.0%).

Up next for the Bearcats is a match-up against Whitman College on Friday, Feb. 12 in Walla Walla, Washington. Game time is set for 8 p.m. (PST).