By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications, (503) 370-6110
SALEM, Ore. -- Ryan Patton hit a 3-point basket with eight seconds left to give Elmhurst College an 80-79 lead, and the Bluejays went on to defeat Willamette University, 82-80, in an NCAA Division III men's basketball game at Cone Field House on Saturday, Dec. 30. Elmhurst, which competes in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW), advanced its record to 8-3. Willamette, a member of the Northwest Conference, fell to 6-5 on the season.
Willamette trailed 73-64 with 5:45 remaining, but rallied for a 79-77 lead on a 3-pointer by Casey Thornton (Sr., W, Santa Rosa, CA/Maria Carrillo HS) with 23 seconds to go.
After Patton moved Elmhurst into the lead, Derek Dotlich stole Willamette's in-bounds pass and was fouled by Trent Callan (Jr., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS). Dotlich sank two free throws for the Bluejays with seven seconds left.
Following the second free throw, Callan took the ball down the court for Willamette. He was fouled by Jake Rhode near the mid-court stripe with three seconds remaining. Callan made the first free throw to pull WU within 82-80. He missed the second attempt and Jeremy Ireland of Elmhurst grabbed the rebound.
Ireland was fouled by Callan, but missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free throw opportunity. Jordan Jenkins (Jr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS) hauled down the rebound for Willamette but his nearly full-court, last-second shot was a bit short and left of the basket.
Callan led all scorers with 21 points. He was 6 of 10 from the field and 9 of 10 at the free throw line. He also provided Willamette with six assists and for rebounds. Brendon McCullough (Sr., G, San Antonio, TX/Home Schooled) tacked on 20 points for the Bearcats, as he went 8 for 12 from the field, including 3 of 5 on three-point shots. It was his second consecutive game with 20 or more points. He scored 25 points in Willamette's 75-66 victory over Trinity University (Texas) on Friday, Dec. 29.
Also reaching double figures for the Bearcats were Thornton with 12 points and Jenkins with 10 points. Thornton was 5 of 8 from the field, while Jenkins earned eight rebounds, plus an assist, a blocked shot and a steal.
Elmhurst finished with five double-digit scorers. Three players -- Patton, Dotlich and Lavon Thomas -- each scored 15 points to lead the Bluejays. Rhode provided a balanced stats line with 13 points and six rebounds, plus game highs with seven assists and four steals. Ireland ended the afternoon with a double-double by earning 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Both teams shot over 50% from the field, with Elmhurst going 31 of 56 (55.4%) and Willamette hitting 29 of 56 shots (51.8%). The Bluejays were 8 of 24 (33.3%) on 3-pointers and made 12 of 15 free throws (80.0%). The Bearcats put through 7 of 18 three-point shots (38.9%) and sank 15 of 21 free throws (71.4%). WU recorded a 31-28 rebounding edge.
The Bluejays took a 17-11 lead with 15:39 left in the first half on a layup by Thomas. A bit later, Willamette cut the margin to 19-16 on a jump shot by CJ Walker (Jr., P, Placentia, CA/Mayfair HS). Elmhurst tallied the next seven points, ending with a jumper by Pavlos Marakis for a 26-16 advantage with 13:06 remaining.
Willamette fell behind by as many 15 points at 36-21 following a pair of free throws by Dotlich with 7:02 to go before halftime. The Bearcats battled their way back with a 20-5 run for a 41-41 tie with 54 seconds on the clock. WU had reduced the margin to 38-27 before McCullough made a layup and two 3-pointers to get the Bearcats as close as 40-35 at the 3:09 mark. McCullough increased his personal scoring spree to 12 consecutive Bearcat points with a layup and a jumper to cut EC's lead to 41-39. Ben Sutton (Fr., F, Seattle, WA/Ingraham HS) completed the run with a layup to tie the score. Two free throws by Ireland gave the Bluejays a 43-31 lead at the break.
Elmhurst scored the first six points of the second half ro a 49-41 lead. The Bearcats pulled within 53-50 with 14:35 remaining on a layup by Dylan Critchfield (Sr., P, Broomfield, CO/Standley Lake HS). A 9-2 run on two 3-pointers by Rhode and one trifecta by Dotlich increased Elmhurst's advantage to 62-52 with 12:52 on the clock.
WU got as close as five points twice over the next five minutes, but the Bluejays held a 73-64 margin after Rhode sank a layup with 5:45 left. Willamette's rally led to a close finish. The Bearcats trailed by just three points, 75-72, after McCullough converted a traditional three-point play with 2:49 to go. Patton put through two free throws 21 second later to give Elmhurst a five-point cushion, but Callan scored on a layup at the 2:08 mark to pull the Bearcats within 77-74.
Thornton scored on a jump shot as the clock reached 1:24 to reduce EC's lead to a single point at 77-76. After Rhode missed a 3-pointer with 55 seconds left, the Bearcats had a chance to take the lead. McCullough was unable to sink a 3-pointer with 29 seconds left, but Jenkins hauled down the rebound and assisted on Thornton's go-ahead 3-pointer with 23 seconds remaining.
Willamette will travel to McMinnville, Oregon, to take on archrival Linfield College when Northwest Conference action resumes for the Bearcats on Wednesday, Jan. 3. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. (PST).