Bearcats Barely Lose to DII NW Nazarene, 91-84

NAMPA, ID — The Willamette Bearcats rode a near triple-double by John Olinger, and big games from Drew Miller and Jason Luchterhand, before falling late in the game to Northwest Nazarene 91-84 in a non-conference game Saturday night.

When David Fife’s 3-pointer put the Bearcats (4-3, 2-0 NWC) up 71-70 with 10:11 to play, the Bearcats' Division II opponent knew it was in for a battle down the stretch.

But the Crusaders (3-2) used 26 points each from Ryan McCarthy and Mesut Ademoglu and 15 assists from Marcus Clift to pull away in the final four minutes.

Miller scored 21 points, 15 of which came in the second half, while Olinger scored 18 and Luchterhand added 16. Olinger narrowly missed a triple-double as he led the Bearcats with nine rebounds and handed out a team-high nine assists in an all-around effort.

The Crusaders shot 51 percent (37-72) for the game, 40 percent from the arc (12-30), and out-rebounded the Bearcats 39-33. Willamette shot 49% from the floor and 43% from beyond the arc.

Tied at 11-11 following an Ian Mansfield three-pointer from the top of the key with 16:49 left to play in the first half, the Crusaders reeled off an 11-0 run that put NNU on top 22-11 with 13:44 remaining in the half. Both teams would trade baskets throughout the remainder of the half, with NNU taking a 49-39 lead into the break.

Trailing 54-45 with 18:31 to play, Willamette turned up the heat and outscored the Crusaders 20-10 over the next five minutes, cutting the NNU advantage to just one at 64-63 with 13:42 to go.

That run began when Fife fed Luchterhand for a short jumper. Then the freshman, making his first start of the season, nailed the first of two big 3-pointers to get the Bearcats within six. Olinger’s 3-pointer made it 54-51 with 17:07 to play and the Bearcats had upset on their minds.

The Bearcats would take their first lead of the second half on a Fife trey with 10:11 to go, making it 71-70 Willamette, turning the game
into a nail-biter.

However the Bearcat rally was short lived, thanks to the duo of Ademoglu and McCarthy who would take control and score 16 of the Crusaders final 19 points.

Along with the double digit efforts from Miller, Luchterhand and Olinger, the Bearcats got eight points and five boards from Ian Mansfield, six points and five assists from Fife and six points from Rob Andrus.

Willamette played without starters Josh Erickson and CJ Stuvland. Erickson had screws removed from his surgically repaired knee and should be back for the Bearcats next game on December 29. There was no immediate word on why Stuvland was not in the line-up.