Bearcats Lose Season Finale In Overtime

SPOKANE, Wash. — Bryan Williams hit two free throws with 1.6 seconds to play in regulation to force overtime, then drained a three pointer with 20 seconds left in overtime to lift Whitworth College to an 87-84 win over visiting Willamette University in a Northwest Conference men's basketball game on Saturday night in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.

The win, Whitworth's fifth in a row to end the season, lifted the Pirates to 13-11 overall and 9-7 in the NWC. Willamette, which came into the game winners in five of its last six, fell to 11-14, 8-8.

Willamette led by as many as 12 points in the first half (28-16) before going to the locker room with a 34-25 advantage. The Bearcats shot 50% in the half, including 5/7 from three point range, while holding the Pirates to 37%. CJ Stuvland had a perfect half, making 3/3 from three point range and 4/4 from the free throw line for 13 points.

Whitworth opened the second half with a 15-3 run to take a 39-37 lead with 16 minutes to go. But Willamette responded with a run of its own and led 54-45 after a pair of free throws by Ian Mansfield with 11:18 to play. The Bearcats still led 62-52 with 6:56 to play after a lay in by Harold Sublet, Jr.

But Whitworth went on its last comeback, taking a 65-64 lead on a Bryan Williams three pointer with 3:52 to go. The teams traded leads over the next two minutes, but after Whitworth missed a shot in the final 20 seconds, Sublet seemed to clinch the game by making one of two free throws and giving the Bearcats a 73-69 lead with 16 seconds to play.

Jon Young answered with a long three pointer to pull the Pirates within 73-72. Then Willamette deadeye John Olinger made one of two free throws with six seconds left, allowing Williams to drive the length of the court and get fouled going to the basket with 1.6 seconds left. After a time out he calmly sank both free throws to tie the game.

Whitworth opened the overtime with a 9-2 run, including two more baskets by Williams, to take a 83-76 lead with 2:11 left. But Willamette forced its own comeback, scoring eight straight points to take a 84-83 lead on a three point play by Olinger with 36 seconds to play. After Young missed a three point try on the other end, Williams got the long rebound, settled, and drained his trey to give the Pirates the lead back.

Olinger made three straight three pointers in the second half to help keep the Bearcats in front and finished with 24 points. Four other Willamette players reached double figures. Sublett and Todd Lewis each had 14, Stuvland did not score after halftime and finished with 13 and Brennan Garrelts scored 10. Lewis led all players with 10 rebounds.

Whitworth swept the season series with Willamette, but both games went into overtime. Whitworth won 71-66 in Salem, Oregon on January 28.

The Pirates finish fourth in the final NWC standings, while the Bearcats finish fifth.