Bearcats Lead #4 Whitworth by Two Points at Half, but Pirates Rally for 76-60 Win

Nathan Sherfey (Sr., F, Chehalis, WA/W.F. West HS)
Nathan Sherfey (Sr., F, Chehalis, WA/W.F. West HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Willamette University led 4th-ranked Whitworth University 36-34 at halftime, but the Pirates rallied for a 76-60 win on Saturday, Feb. 17 at the Whitworth Fieldhouse. Whitworth received 20 points each from Garrett Hull and Ben College. The Pirates advanced their record to 22-3, including 14-2 in the Northwest Conference (2nd place). Willamette ended its season at 11-14 overall, 6-10 in the NWC (5th place tie).

Nathan Sherfey (Sr., F, Chehalis, WA/W.F. West HS) topped Willamette with 15 points, as he connected on 5 of 8 three-point shots. Jordan Jenkins (Jr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS) scored 12 points and led the Bearcats with eight reobunds and three assists. He also blocked a shot and had one steal. Trent Callan (Jr., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) and Nico Troplent (Sr., W, Guadaloupe, France/Cathedral HS) tallied eight points apiece. Dylan Critchfield (Sr., P, Broomfield, CO/Standley Lake HS) earned six points and seven rebounds.

Troplent finished his four years at Willamette with 981 points, 419 rebounds, 135 assists and 121 steals. In his 99 games (89 starts), he averaged 9.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Brendon McCullough (Sr., G, San Antonio, TX/Home Schooled) ended his career with the Bearcats after accumulating 902 points, 259 rebounds, 175 assists and 106 steals. He averaged 9.4 points per game and 2.7 rebounds per game, while competing in 96 games, including 83 starts.

Sherfey tied his career-high with five 3-pointers during the game. He hit five 3-pointers earlier this season against Trinity University (Texas) on Dec. 29, 2017.

"The first half was a fantastic performance on both ends of the floor, led by Dylan Critchfield's energy off the bench and by Nathan Sherfey's shooting," Willamette Head Coach Kip Ioane commented. "In the second half, we just couldn't find the same rhythm offensively.

Hull had a huge game for the Pirates, with four rebounds, five assists and seven steals in addition to his 20-point performance. Hull was 8 of 13 from the field (3 of 4 on threes), while College went 8 of 16, including 4 of 8 on 3-pionters.

Whitworth placed three players in double figures, as Hull and College were joined by Kevin Crosno with 12 points. Crosno was 4 for 5 from the field -- all from 3-point range. Jared Christy provided the Pirates with seven points, seven rebounds and four assists.

The first of Sherfey's five 3-point baskets gave Willamette a 7-3 led with 16:23 remaining in the first half. Several minutes later, the Bearcats owned a 12-8 lead on a 3-pointer by Conin Oishi (Sr., G, Lake Forest Park, WA/Shorecrest HS). College scored on a 3-ponter and a layup to put Whitworth in front at 13-12 with 12:16 on the clock. The lead changed hands four more times befroe Willamette used a 7-0 run to turn a 21-20 deficit into a 27-21 lead on a jumper by Callan with 6:33 to play in the half.

With 2:52 left, Whitworth created a 32-32 tie on a layup by Hull. Willamette tallied the net four points on layups by Critchfield and Callan, but the Pirates pulled within 36-34 on a layup by Ben Bishop with 49 seconds to go.

Sherfey scored nine points in the first half for Willamette, while Crosno earned nine points for the Pirates. Critchfield registered all six of his points and five of his rebounds for the Bearcats during the first 20 minutes.

Jenkins sank 1 of 2 free throws just 32 seconds into the second half to increase Willamette's lead to 37-34. Whitworth put through the next nine points on baskets by four different players, including a trifecta by Kyle Roach. The lead for the Pirates expanded to 50-40 with 14:54 on the clock following a layup by Christy.

Willamette answered with a jumper by Casey Thornton (Sr., W, Santa Rosa, CA/Maria Carrillo HS) to get within 50-42, and also trailed by eight points at 52-44 following a layup by Troplent with 11:50 left. Whitworth recorded eight unanswered points ending with a 3-pointer by Crosno and a layup by Sam Lees to take a 60-44 lead with 10:18 remaining.

The Bearcats shot 61.5% in the first half (16 of 26) and made 8 of 19 shots (42.1%) in the second half to finish at 53.3% overall. Whitworth shot 46.8% on field goals (29 of 62), while making 12 of 25 three-point attempts (48.0%). Willamette was 8 of 20 from behind the arc. The Bearcats gained a 36-25 rebounding margin, but were forced into 23 turnovers, while the Pirates lost possession just seven times and were credited with 14 steals.