The Bearcats finished the season on a high note, shutting down Pacific University 67-49 in Salem on Tuesday night and defeating rival Linfield College 63-55 in front of 2000 fans in Salem on Friday night. WU completed the 2003-2004 campaign with a record of 17-8 (12-4) overall, to finish in 2nd place for the 3rd consecutive season.


Willamette placed two seniors on this year’s All-NWC teams. David Force (Sr., Lake Oswego, OR) was a 1st Team All-NWC performer, while Miles Sandgathe (Sr., Springfield, OR) repeated his 2nd Team All-NWC selection from a year ago. Willamette has now placed at least one player on the 1st Team All-NWC for the past 5 seasons. Here are those players:
-2000 Jason Downey
-2001 Nik Lubisich
-2002 Ryan Hepp, Marques Johnson
-2003 Ryan Hepp, Marques Johnson
-2004 David Force


When the final horn sounded Friday night, WU said goodbye to its class of 2004 (Force, Sandgathe, Ryan Rahlfs, PJ McDevitt, and Todd Lewis). This group has compiled 3 consecutive 2nd place finishes in the NWC, and has been instrumental in leading the ‘Cats to the 2002 NWC semifinals, and the 2003 NWC championship game. In addition, these seniors have been an impressive 36-12 in NWC action the past three years, and have amassed a 29-3 record at Cone Fieldhouse the past 3 seasons.


The Bearcats finished the year as the #1 defensive team in NWC action (yielding only 65.5 ppg). Also, despite being undersized in almost every contest, WU lead the NWC in rebounding margin, outrebounding its opponents by an average of 2.8 boards per game. Finally, Willamette finished 2nd to Whitworth College in FT percentage on the year, connecting on 74.2% of their attempts from the charity stripe.


The Bearcats will look to finally get over the hump in the race for the NWC crown in 2004-2005, relying heavily on returning starters Harold Sublett, Jr., John Olinger, and Brennan Garrelts. All three lead the team in scoring on at least one occasion, and must take their games to another level to make up for the losses the team suffers to graduation. Sublett posted a number of double-double games, Olinger was especially effective from behind the 3-pt arc, and Garrelts continued to make his presence felt on the defensive end against some of the league’s best players. With the return of Josh Erickson (a spark plug point guard off the bench until a late season injury) and Drew Miller, as well as the development of some younger players and the incoming class of 2008, Coach Gordie James’ Bearcats will be back in the thick of the NWC race.