Olinger, Luchterhand Lead Bearcats Past Whitman

WALLA, WALLA, WA — John Olinger couldn't miss in the second half, scoring 26 of his game-high 30 points to rally Willamette to an 86-82 Northwest Conference victory over Whitman Saturday night in Sherwood Center.

The Bearcats upped their record to 7-5 on the season and to 3-1 in NWC play. The Missionaries, who led by nine points with 15 minutes left in the second half, dropped to 6-5 and 2-2.

Olinger, a senior guard, made all nine of his shots from the floor in the second half, including three from the three-point arc. He also converted all five of his free throws.

Jason Luchterhand also had a big game with 11 points and team-highs of seven rebounds and five assists.

Willamette jumped in front 12-4 to start the game. Stuvland nailed a three to open the scoring. Drew Miller hit five straight points and Olinger hit a pair of jumpers to put the Bearcats up eight early.

But Whitman bounced back to lead 33-25 at halftime. The home team still led by nine points, 47-38, with 15:07 remaining, but the Bearcats scrambled back with a 14-4 run to lead 52-51 with 12:09 left.

Luchterhand started the come-back with a three-point play. Consecutive 3-pointers from Stuvland, Ian Mansfield and Olinger brought the Bearcats to within one before a Stuvland jumper at 12:09 put the Bearcats back on top.

Matt Kelly, a senior guard, nailed a jumper to give Whitman its last lead, 59-57, at the 8:30 mark. But Olinger responded, reeling off 10 unanswered points before Luchterhand converted two free throws for a 10-point Willamette lead.

Whitman's Kyle Born, a junior forward, posted his second double-double in as many nights, grabbing 18 rebounds to go with 14 points. Senior post Erik Kofler had 17 points and six rebounds for the Missionaries.

Whitman made a final run, getting back-to-back three-pointers from Kofler and sophomore post Aaron Hazel to cut its deficit to 79-74 with 2:16 left on the clock.

But the Bearcats were clutch from the free throw line, closing out the Missionairies by hitting seven of eight free throws in the closing seconds to secure the win.

As a team, Willamette made 21 of 26 second-half shots, a sizzling 81 percent. Whitman won the rebounding battle 42-31.

Olinger got plenty of scoring help from Willamette's other four starters. Ian Mansfield and Drew Miller had 12 points apiece, while Luchterhand finished with 11 points and C.J. Stuveland chipped in with 10.
Luchterhand had seven boards and five assists, both team highs.

Whitman also had five players scoring in double figures. Ian Warner had 14 points, Hazel 13 and Kelly 10.