Warriors Pull Away in Final Seven Minutes for 86-73 Win over Bearcats

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

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SALEM, Ore. -- Corban University led by just five points, 68-63, with 6:53 to go, but the Warriors ended he game with an 18-10 run to defeat Willamette University, 86-73, at Cone Field House on Friday, Dec. 8. The Bearcats pulled within 80-73 with 50 seconds left, before Corban scored the game's final six points with a 6-for-6 effort at the line. The Warriors, who were 25 for 28 (89.3%) at the line overall, upped their record to 7-3. Willamette fell to 3-3 on the season.

The strong free throw shooting, plus four players in double figures, helped give Corban an edge. The Bearcats went 8 for 11 at the free throw line (72.7%), but took 17 fewer free throws than the Warriors. Willamette was called for 24 fouls, while Corban picked up 16 fouls. 

Corban shot 50.0% on field goals during the game (26 of 52), including 9 for 21 (42.9%) from 3-point range. Willamette hit 43.9% of its field goals (29 of 66) to finish with three more baskets than Corban. The Bearcats were 7 for 20 on 3-point attempts (35.0%).

Joel Johnson, Corban's 6'9" post player, scored a game-high 19 points to go with 10 rebounds. He was 5 for 5 from the field and went 9 for 11 at the line. Jett Sobotta provided the Warriors with 17 points on 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point range. Sobotta also grabbed six boards. AJ Monterossi tacked on 16 points and registered four assists. Chris Martin scored 13 points.

Nico Troplent (Sr., W, Los Angeles, CA/Cathedral HS) led the Bearcats with 15 points and went 6 for 10 from the field. He also earned five rebounds, three assists and one steal. Brendon McCullough (Sr., G, San Antonio, TX/Home Schooled) finished wiht nine boards, four rebounds and two steals. Jameson Willems (Jr./So., F, Billings, MT/Skyview HS) matched McCullough with nine points.

Jordan Jenkins (Jr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS), Trent Callan (Jr., G, Portland, ORLincoln HS) and Dylan Critchfield (Sr., P, Broomfield, COStandley Lake HS) each recorded eight points for the Bearcats. Jenkins grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds and also topped all players with six assists.

The Bearcats led 11-7 with 13:34 left in the first half on a 3-pointer by Willems. A bit later, the teams were tied at 15-15 before the Warriors put together a 20-2 run. After Sobotta sank a 3-pointer with 4:17 left in the half, Corban owned a 35-17 advantage. WU rallied with a 15-2 offensive surge heading into the halftime break.

Willamette's run included points from five different players, including three free throws by McCullough when he was fouled on a 3-point shot with 2:20 remaining. The Warrriors held a 37-27 lead on a layup by Monterossi with 1:42 to go, but Caleb Roberts (Jr., W, Salem, OR/North HS) scored on a jump shot and a 3-point shot for Willamette to cut the margin to 37-32 at halftime.

The teams exchanged the first five baskets of the second half, leaving Corban with a 45-37 advantage at the 18:16 mark. The Bearcats scored 10 of the next 13 points, cutting the margin to 48-47 on a 3-pointer by Troplent with 16:15 remaining. Corban went on to take a 54-50 lead several minutes later, but Willamette tied the score at 54-54 on two free throws by Willems with 11:09 left.

Corban grabbed control of the game by adding the next eight points to its side of the scoreboard for a 62-54 lead with 9:33 on the clock. A 3-pointer by Conin Oishi (Sr., G, Lake Forest Park, WA/Shorecrest HS) moved WU within five points just 24 seconds later. The Bearcats also got as close as five points at 68-63 on a jumper by McCullough with 6:53 left.

The game-ending run by Corban began with a 7-0 spurt that gave the Warriors a 75-63 margin. Monterossi opened the run with a 3-pointer, then Denis Kirichenko tacked on a layup, and Martin put through a jumper with 5:33 remaining.

Willamette earned the next two baskets on layups by Critchfield, but Johnson sank two free throws with 1:51 to go for a 77-67 Corban lead. The Bearcats reduced the deficit to seven points a bit later at 78-71 when Troplent made a layup with 58 seconds left. Sobotta hit two free throws for the Warriors two seconds later, only to have Troplent score on a jumper with 50 seconds on the clock to pull WU within 80-73. Sobotta, Andrew Evans, and Kirichenko each made two free throws the rest of the way.

The Bearcats will be back in action right away, as they are set to play at Portland Bible College on Saturday, Dec. 9. Tipoff in Portland, Oregon, is scheduled for 7 p.m. (PST).