Willamette Bench Contributes in a Big Way in 103-74 Win over Northwest Indian

Ben Sutton (Fr., F, Seattle, WA/Ingraham HS)
Ben Sutton (Fr., F, Seattle, WA/Ingraham HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SALEM, Ore. -- The Willamette University starting lineup scored the first 18 points toward a 20-0 opening run, then the bench poured in 85 points, as the Bearcats defeated Northwest Indian College, 103-74, on Sunday, Dec. 10 at Cone Field House. Four freshmen led the Bearcats with double-digit scoring, including Ben Sutton (Fr., F, Seattle, WA/Ingraham HS) and Ryan Peterson (Fr., P, Edmonds, WA/Edmonds-Woodway HS), who also contributed double-digit rebounding. Willamette improved to 5-3 on the season, while Northwest Indian fell to 0-10.

Willamette's starters played between three and six minutes at the start of the the game. The Bearcats led 18-0 before Sutton scored the first points off the bench for a 20-0 lead with 15:11 left in the first half. The remainder of the game was played by reserves and junior varsity players called up to the varsity.

The Bearcats continued to control the game. Willamette reached the 100-point mark for the first time this season, and ended the game with a 63-24 rebounding margin.

Sutton led all scorers with 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting from the floor and 4-for-5 accuracy at the free throw line. He also grabbed 10 rebounds for the Bearcats and blocked one shot. Peterson provided WU with 17 points, hit 8 of 12 field goals, and latched onto 10 rebounds. He also blocked one shot.

Also reaching double figures for the Bearcats were Micah Fleming (Fr., G, Orland, CA/Orland HS) and Will Huntington (Fr., P, Oakland, CA/Bishop O'Dowd HS). Fleming finished with 16 point on 8 of 13 field goals. He hauled down six rebounds, supplied six assists and earned two steals. Huntington produced 13 points and was 5 of 8 on field goals. He earned four rebounds and two assists.

"This was a unique opportunity of us to have our primary rotation guys put the game away early enough to give our young guys a lot of game action," Willamette Head Coach Kip Ioane said.

Kody Takushi and Jaloni Pepper each scored 15 points for the Northwest Indian. Ian Samuelson added 14 points for the Eagles, while Christian Nickerson achieved 10 points. Antonio Nicdao scored nine points. Nickerson and Nicdao tied for the team lead with five rebounds. Colten Mack dished out a game-high nine assists.

Among Willamette's starting five, Jordan Jenkins (Jr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS) led the way with seven points, six rebounds and one assist. He was 3 for 3 from the field in four minutes on the court. Brendon McCullough (Sr., G, San Antonio, TX/Home Schooled) tacked on five points in four minutes played.

CJ Walker (Jr., P, Placentia, CA/Mayfair HS) scored the game's first four points on a pair of layups. A big later, Jenkins went on a 5-0 run of his own with a layup and a 3-pointer for an 11-0 lead. A 3-pointer by McCullouch at the 16:49 mark increased the advantage to 14-0, and soon the Bearcats had a 20-0 run. Pepper stopped Willamette's scoring streak with a jumper for the Eagles with 14:29 left in the half.

Momentum quickly returned to the Bearcats, who saw the bench extend the lead to 35-2 with a 15-0 surge until 8:52 remained in the half. Five players scored during the run. Northwest Indian began hitting shots late in the half and pulled within 55-32 on a 3-pointer by Takushi with 29 seconds on the clock. Huntington added a layup for Willamette with three seconds left to give the Bearcats a 57-32 halftime lead. The Eagles never got closer than 23 points in the second half.

"I loved how the older guys supported the young ones all game, and I thought our freshmen settled in and played well," Ioane commented.

The Bearcats shot 50.6% for the game (42 of 83), including 55.0% (22 of 40) in the first half. Willamette connected on 6 of 19 three-pointers (31.6%) and sank 13 of 17 free throws (76.5%).

Northwest Indian concluded the night 28 of 66 on field goals (42.4%), but shot 51.6% (16 of 31) in the second half. The Eagles converted 12 of 31 three-point shots (38.7%) and made 6 of 13 free throws (46.2%).

Willamette's next game is schedule for Thursday, Dec. 21, when the Bearcats will host the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh at Cone Field House. Game time is set for 2 p.m. (PST).