Whitworth Shoots 66.7% in Second Half to Pull Away from Willamette for Northwest Conference Win, 81-66

SPOKANE, WASH. -- Whitworth College, ranked 16th in this week’s NCAA Division III National Poll compiled by D3hoops.com, shot 66.7% in the second half (18 of 27) to expand a slim 34-33 halftime lead and claim an 81-66 victory over Willamette University, Friday, Feb. 16 at the Whitworth Fieldhouse. The Pirates, now 22-3 overall and 13-3 in the Northwest Conference, clinched at least a tie for the NWC title. Willamette dropped to 10-14 overall, 6-9 in the NWC.

Whitworth has completed its regular season schedule. Lewis & Clark College, currently 18-6 overall and 12-3 in the NWC, will tie the Pirates for the conference title if the Pioneers win at George Fox University on Saturday, Feb. 17.

In Friday’s NWC battle between the ‘Cats and the Pirates, Willamette led 8-1 early in the game and held a 31-30 advantage following a jumper by Rob Andrus (Sr., Wing, Chimacum, WA/Chimacum HS) with 1:17 remaining in the half. The Pirates scored the next four points on a jumper by Colin Willemsen and a layup by Calving Jurich, before Ian Mansfield (Jr., Post, Hillsboro, OR/Century HS) closed out the first half scoring for Willamette on two free throws with six seconds left.

The Bearcats, who shot 44.0% (11 of 25) from the field and hit 8 of 8 free throws in the first half, made just one of six field goal attempts in the first 6:36 of the second half. Meanwhile, Whitworth opened the final 20-minute period with a 14-2 run. The offensive surge included 5-of-8 shooting, plus two offensive boards that led to additional baskets.

By the time Willamette’s offensive got back into gear in the second half (WU shot 50.0% during the final period on 13-of-26 shooting), it was too late, as Whitworth had control of the game. The Pirates extended their lead to 61-42 with 9:52 left, increasing the WC run to 27-9 to start the second half.

Willamette outscored Whitworth, 24-20, the rest of the way, but was unable to get closer than 12 points. WU finished the game shooting 47.1% overall (24 of 51), while Whitworth was 32 of 56 on the night (57.1%). The Pirates claimed a 31-29 rebounding margin.

Jon Young led the Whitworth scoring chart with 19 points, including 6 of 8 on field goals with three 3-point baskets. James Jones tacked on 13 points, while Willemsen scored 12 points. Ryan Symes and Bryan Williams each contributed 10 points for the Pirates.

Symes led all players with nine rebounds, while Young hauled down seven boards. Williams provided the Pirates with eight assists and five rebounds. Jones earned three assists and two steals.

Willamette placed four players in double figures, led by Mansfield with 13 points. Mansfield was 5 of 9 from the field and also supplied five rebounds. Andrus tallied 12 points, as he reached double figures for the 11th time in Willamette’s last 13 games. Kyler McClary (So., Post, Hillsboro, OR/Glencoe HS) and Michael Smith (Jr., Wing, Phoenix, OR/Phoenix HS) each scored 10 points.

Tain Cantrell (So., Post, Beaverton, OR/Westview HS) topped the Bearcats with seven rebounds. Corey Costantino (So., Wing, Ashland, OR/Ashland HS) provided Willamette with seven assists.

Willamette will conclude its season with an NWC road game at Whitman College on Saturday, Feb. 17 in Walla Walla, Wash. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. (PST). The Bearcats defeated the Missionaries, 89-80, at Cone Field House in Salem, Ore., on Jan. 20.