Nugent Scores 33 Points, Sinks 15 of 17 Free Throws, as Bearcats Defeat Missionaries, 89-80

SALEM, ORE. -- Freshman wing/post Dan Nugent (Portland, OR/Jesuit HS) scored 33 points and hit 15 of 17 free throws to lead four Willamette University players in double figures, as the Bearcats outscored Whitman College, 89-80, in a Northwest Conference game on Saturday, Jan. 20.

Nugent’s career high so far in his first season of collegiate basketball was 34 points in a 140-137 triple-overtime loss at the University of Puget Sound on Dec. 1. In that game, he scored 27 points in regulation. Against Whitman on Saturday, Nugent scored 15 points in the first half, then poured in 18 more during the final 20 minutes. In addition to leading all players in scoring, he also brought down five rebounds, blocked four shots and provided two assists and two steals. He was 8 of 12 from the field and 2 for 3 on three-point shots.

Joining Nugent in double figures for the Bearcats were Michael Smith (Jr., Wing, Phoenix, OR/Phoenix HS), Ian Mansfield (Jr., Post, Hillsboro, OR/Century HS) and Kyler McClary (So., Post, Hillsboro, OR/Glencoe HS). Smith scored 19 points and connected on 3 of 6 shots from 3-point range. It was Smith’s third 19-point game of the season and his 12th double-digit game in the past 13 contests.

Mansfield tallied 16 points, grabbed nine rebounds and played 39 minutes, often taking over point guard duties with C.J. Stuvland (Sr., Point Guard/Wing, Portland, OR/University of Oregon) not yet at full strength due to an ankle injury. Mansfield recorded four assists, blocked three shots and recorded four steals. He was 7 of 12 on field goals.

McClary registered a double-double by scoring 10 points and snagging 10 rebounds. It was his second double-double in the last three games. Against Whitman, he also was credited with three assists and two blocked shots, helping Willamette accumulate 17 assists and nine blocks during the game.

Whitman was paced by Ian Warner, who scored 23 points, had six assists and grabbed five rebounds. He connected on 9 of 15 field goals and tied for the team lead with three 3-pointers. Kyle Born, the NWC’s leading scorer, chipped in 15 points and hauled down 11 boards. He entered the game averaging 20.3 points per game.

Also in double figures for Whitman was Chris Faidley with 14 points. He matched Warner with three successful shots from 3-point range. Garth Brandal hauled down seven rebounds to go with five points. The Missionaries earned a 35-33 rebounding edge, including 17 offensive boards.

Whitman opened the game with a 13-6 run. Willamette answered with a 9-2 spurt to tie the game, and neither team led by more than three points until the Bearcats took a 30-25 advantage on a jumper by Rob Andrus (Sr., Wing, Chimacum, WA/Chimacum HS) with 6:05 left in the half.

The Bearcats owned a 37-27 lead following a basket by Smith at the 4:05 mark, but the Missionaries scored nine of the next 10 points to pull within 38-37 with about six seconds left in the half. Willamette went down the court quickly and Nugent shot a jumper with less than three seconds left. The shot fell off the rim and was grabbed by McClary, who scored on a layup as the half ended.

The Bearcats never trailed in the second half, but couldn’t shake the Missionaries. Willamette took its largest lead of the game, 64-51, on a 3-pointer by Nugent with 10:49 to go. The trifecta completed an 11-2 run by the ‘Cats during a two-minute, 25-second span.

Whitman followed with its own run, as the Missionaries scored 10 unanswered points to cut the deficit to three at 64-61 with 8:14 left. Brendan Ziegler scored the final four points of the run, while Faidley opened the run with a free throw at the 10:26 mark, then added a 3-pointer with 9:46 remaining.

Mansfield nailed a 3-pointer for Willamette with 7:51 on the clock to give the Bearcats a 67-61 lead. Warner registered the next basket for Whitman, but the Bearcats followed with a 7-1 run and the Missionaries trailed by 10 points, 74-64, with 5:36 to go.

Once again, Whitman chipped into the lead and pulled within 74-70 on a jumper by Warner at the 3:19 mark. Smith ended the rally by sinking a 3-pointer for Willamette 15 seconds later. Warner added another jumper for the Missionaries to reduce the lead to 77-72 with 2:34 left.

Warner recorded his fifth foul at the 2:20 mark and Corey Costantino (So., Wing, Ashland, OR/Ashland HS) converted 1 of 2 free throws. Nugent added two charity shots with 1:58 remaining for an 80-72 lead, and the Bearcats held at least a seven-point lead the rest of the game.

Willamette shot 56.9% from the field (29 of 51), including 60.0% (15 of 25) over the final 20 minutes. The Bearcats limited Whitman to 38.5% shooting in the second half (15 of 39). The Missionaries were 31 of 70 (44.3%) on field goals during the game.

Although Whitman held a 31-29 advantage in total baskets and hit 8 of 24 three-pointers compared to 6 of 20 three-pointers for Willamette, the Missionaries struggled at the line. Whitman made just 10 of 21 charity shots (47.6%), including 0 for 6 in the first period. The Bearcats connected on 25 of 31 free throws (80.6%).

WU will continue its five game homestand on Friday, Jan. 26, when the ‘Cats host Puget Sound at Cone Field House at 8 p.m. (PST). Pacific Lutheran University will play the Bearcats on Saturday, Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. (PST) to complete the string of home games. Willamette is currently 2-1 during the homestand and 5-2 overall at home this season.