Bearcats Defeat Southern Oregon, 56-47, at Flagship Inn Classic

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

ASHLAND, ORE. -- Sophomore post Cameron Mitchell (Portland, OR/Grant HS/U. of Redlands) scored 14 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, helping Willamette University defeat Southern Oregon University, 56-47, on Friday, Nov. 23, in the opening round of the Flagship Inn Classic, hosted by the Raiders at McNeal Pavilion. The Bearcats and Southern Oregon were tied, 45-45, with 5:57 remaining, but Willamette closed the game with an 11-2 run.

Willamette improved to 2-1 on the season, while SOU dropped to 4-4. The Bearcats will take on Oregon Institute of Technology on Saturday, Nov. 24 at 5:30 p.m. (PST), in the second round of the tournament. OIT defeated Lewis-Clark State College (Idaho), 82-67, in Friday's first game to improve to 7-1.

The Bearcats were in front 15-3 after nine minutes and held a 24-18 lead at halftime, but fell behind in the first 3:20 of the second half. SOU opened the period with an 11-4 run to take a 29-28 advantage. It was the first of eight lead changes during the second half, which also featured two ties.

Southern owned a 43-40 lead with 10:00 left, following a 3-pointer by David Grant. WU countered with a 5-0 run on a jumper by Ricky Thompson (Fr., PG, Temecula, CA/Temecula HS) with 8:33 remaining and a 3-pointer by Mike Smith (Sr., Wing, Talent, OR/Phoenix HS) at the 6:23 mark. SOU tied the game on a jumper by Kory Mahr, but the Raiders never led again.

Willamette moved in front for good when Mitchell grabbed an offensive rebound and scored with 4:20 left for a 47-45 advantage. The 'Cats added layups by Thompson and Smith for a 51-45 margin with 3:05 to go.

SOU cut the lead to four points on a jumper by Jason Nunnemaker with 2:30 on the clock. Willamette hit 5 of 6 free throws the rest of the way to clinch the win. Mitchell hauled down two of his rebounds following a missed free throw and a missed three-pointer by the Raiders in the final minute.

Neither team shot well, as Willamette connected on just 31.3% of its field goals (21 of 67) and Southern Oregon hit just 33.3% from the field (19 of 57). WU made 4 of 14 three-pointers (28.6%) and the Raiders sank 2 of 16 long-range shots (12.5%). At the line, the Bearcats converted 10 of 16 attempts, while SOU hit 7 of 12.

The Bearcats offset their difficulty shooting by dominating the boards, 56-33. In addition to Mitchell's 14 rebounds, the Bearcats also received nine rebounds from Tain Cantrell (Jr., Post, Beaverton, OR/Westview HS) and eight rebounds from Ian Mansfield (Sr., Post, Hillsboro, OR/Century HS).

Mitchell was one of three Bearcats with double-digit scoring. Also reaching double figures were Smith, with 12 points, and Thompson, with 10. Mitchell scored his 14 points on 5 of 8 field goals and 4 of 6 at the line.

Trenton Fraser led SOU with 13 points. He was 5 of 10 from the field and connected on one of the Raiders' two three-point baskets. Mahr tacked on nine points, was 4 of 5 on field goals and contributed six rebounds. Matt Cowell finished with nine points and a team-high seven boards.

In three games, Willamette has averaged 10.7 rebounds more than its opponents. Mitchell leads the Bearcats with 9.7 rebounds per game, with Kyler McClary (Jr., Post, Hillsboro, OR/Glencoe HS) adding 7.0 rebounds per game. McClary grabbed six rebounds against Southern Oregon.

Willamette University 56, Southern Oregon University 47
Mike Smith scored 12 points against Southern Oregon. He is Willamette's leading scorer with 14.7 points per game this season.

Mike Smith scored 12 points against Southern Oregon. He is Willamette's leading scorer with 14.7 points per game this season.