Erickson's Only Point Gives Bearcats 66-65 Upset Win Over No. 4 OIT

ASHLAND, OR — Junior Josh Erickson’s free throw with six-tenths of a second remaining — his only point of the game — led the Willamette University men’s basketball team to a 66-65 upset of NAIA Div. II fourth-ranked Oregon Tech in the Flagship Inn Classic at McNeal Pavilion Friday night on the campus of Southern Oregon University.

The NCAA Div. III Bearcats (2-1) halted OIT’s season-opening five-game win streak when Owl post Max Gotzler fouled Erickson in the act of shooting a last-ditch, 15-foot leaning jumper.

Five ticks earlier, Tech knotted the score at 65-all on a pair of free throw makes by all-star guard Levell Hesia.

Junior guard CJ Stuvland scored 20 for Willamette, and senior post Jason Luchterhand amassed 16 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. John Olinger had 16 points and Ian Mansfield led the Bearcats to a 43-33 rebounding edge with 14 carooms.

Willamette executed its motion offense to near-perfection in racing to 14-5 and 30-15 first-half leads. The Bearcats converted 15 of its first 26 shots (58 percent) en route to a 34-26 halftime edge.

Despite sophomore Ryan Fiegi’s game-long foul trouble, senior all-star Andre Lawrence kept the cold-shooting Owls within striking distance with 20 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and five steals.

A 10-foot Gotzler jumper with 1:35 remaining provided OIT with its first and only lead (63-61), but layups on successive possessions by Olinger set up the nail-biting final six seconds.

OIT shot just 36 percent (23 of 64), while the Bearcats finished with a 52-percent clip (26 of 50) but turned the ball over 23 times.

The Bearcats square off with Southern Oregon Saturday night in the final game of the classic. SOU beat William Jessup University 81-53.