By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- The Willamette University men's basketball team defeated two Northwest Conference teams this past weekend to improve to 8-7 overall and 3-3 in the NWC. The Bearcats won big at Pacific Lutheran University on Friday, Jan. 12 with an 80-49 victory. On Saturday, Jan. 13, the Bearcats added an 83-67 win over Pacific University. In those two games Willamette amassed 42 assists on 61 baskets.
Many of Willamette's assists were recorded in the win at PLU. In that game, the Bearcats earned 28 assists on 32 baskets, with a great pass preceding nearly every score. Trent Callan (Jr., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) led the way with a career-high nine assists. Other Bearcats with multiple assists were Jordan Jenkins (Jr., F, Placentia, CAValencia HS) with six and Nico Troplent (Sr., W, Guadaloupe, France/Cathedral HS) and Brendon McCullough (Sr., G, San Antonio, TX/Home Schooled) with four apiece.
The 28 total assists tied for sixth on Willamette's all-time list, matching five other games. The school record of 39 was set against Southern Oregon University on Dec. 7, 1990.
Willamette added another 14 assists against Pacific. Troplent earned a game-high five assists, while Callan finished with three assists and McCullough added two assists.
The high-scoring weekend featured a pair of career-high individual offensive performances by the Bearcats. Jenkins tallied a career-high 21 points in the win over the Lutes, while Troplent tied a career-high with 24 points against the Boxers. Jenkins averaged 18.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 blocked shots per game, while shooting 77.8% from the field and 72.7% at the free throw line. Troplent registered 18.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He shot 54.5% from the field, including 5 of 11 on 3-point attempts, and hit 8 of 8 free throws.
Over the weekend, Willamette shot 50.0% as a team, including a solid 37.3% from 3-point range. The Bearcats connected on 78.6% of their free throws, and outrebounded their opponents by a 38.5 to 33.0 margin. WU limited Pacific Lutheran and Pacific to 35.2% shooting with just 26.9% accuracy on 3-point shots.
Willamette returns to action on Friday, Jan. 19 against Whitworth University at Cone Field House. Game time is set for 8 p.m. (PST). The Pirates are 13-2 overall, 5-1 in the NWC. Whitworth is ranked #7 in this week's D3hoops.com Top 25 Poll. The Bearcats will host Whitman College on Saturday, Jan. 20 at 6 p.m. Whitman is ranked #1 in the nation by D3hoops.com. The Blues enter the weekend with a 15-0 record, including 6-0 in the NWC.