Smith Hits 6 of 8 Shots, Including Four Three-Pointers, to Lead Bearcats Past Southern Oregon, 66-51

McClary and Andrus each Score 13 Points for Willamette

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University junior wing Michael Smith (Talent, OR/Phoenix HS) scored 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 4 for 4 on three-point shots, to lead the Bearcats to a 66-51 victory over Southern Oregon University on Saturday, Dec. 9 at Cone Field House. Kyler McClary (So., Post, Hillsboro, OR/Glencoe HS) and Rob Andrus (Sr., Wing, Chimacum, WA/Chimacum HS) added 13 points apiece for the Bearcats. Matt Cowell was the top player for SOU, as he led the Raiders with 11 points and tied for the team lead with six rebounds.

Willamette improved to 3-5 overall, while Southern Oregon dropped to 7-4. WU has opened the season by playing eight consecutive opponents with winning records. The Bearcats’ eight opponents have a combined record of 47-16 (.746), not counting two games scheduled for later on Saturday, Dec. 9.

In the first half, Willamette led 6-2 with 18:40 left on the clock, following a 3-pointer by Smith. The ‘Cats went the next 6:13 without scoring, and fell behind, 13-6, after five different Raiders contributed to an 11-0 run. Andrus ended the drought with a basket at the 12:27 mark.

WU tied the game at 13-13 with 11:06 remaining in the period, but SOU held leads of 15-13 and 17-15, before the Bearcats went on a 14-5 run for a 29-22 advantage with 4:24 left in the half.

The Bearcats held a 33-28 lead at halftime and SOU never got closer in the second half. Eventually, the Bearcats extended the lead to 44-34 on a jumper by Dan Nugent (Fr., Wing/Post, Portland, OR/Jesuit HS) with 13:27 to go.

WU took its first 15-point lead on a pair of free throws by Andrus with 7:32 left. The largest margin of the game was 17 points, 66-49, following a 3-pointer by Smith with 2:12 to play. SOU concluded the scoring on a jumper by Chuckie Ivey with 1:49 left.

Nugent, Willamette’s leading scorer on the season, received two fouls in the first 6:03 of the game and finished with eight points. He was 4 for 8 from the field and contributed six rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots.

Ian Mansfield (Sr., Post, Hillsboro, OR/Century HS) of Willamette led all players with nine rebounds. Tain Cantrell (So., Post, Beaverton, OR/Westview HS) tied Nugent for second on the team in rebounding with six boards, while McClary added five rebounds.

The Bearcats outshot the Raiders by a sizable margin in the second half, hitting 50.0% from the field
(14 of 28), while holding SOU to 33.3% (10 of 30). For the game, Willamette was 27 of 60 (45.0%) on field goals, including 7 of 17 on three-pointers (41.2%). Southern Oregon shot 37.7% for the game (23 of 61) and made just 2 of 15 three-pointers (13.3%).

Cowell was joined by Ivey in double figures for SOU. Ivey scored 10 points, was 5 of 11 from the field and earned three assists. Cowell’s six rebounds were matched by Josh McDermott and by Erion Moore. Moore just missed double figures in scoring, as he concluded the game with nine points.

The Bearcats are off until Dec. 19, when they will travel to nearby Monmouth, Ore., to take on Western Oregon University. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. (PST). Willamette will close out the 2006 portion of the schedule at the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Tournament, hosted by California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, Calif. WU will play California Lutheran on Dec. 29 at 8 p.m. (PST), before facing Bethany College (Kan.) or Milwaukee School of Engineering (Wisc.) on Dec. 30 (time TBA).