La Verne Rallies from Halftime Deficit to Edge Bearcats, 84-81

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

LA VERNE, CALIF. -- Willamette University held a 40-33 halftime lead, but the University of La Verne rallied in the second half to defeat the visiting Bearcats, 84-81, in a non-conference game on Friday, Nov. 30. La Verne upped its record to 3-2, while Willamette dropped to 2-3.

Mike Smith (Sr., Wing, Talent, OR/Phoenix HS) led the Bearcats with 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting. He connected on 5 of 9 three-point shots and had just one turnover in 28 minutes on the court.

Tain Cantrell (Jr., Post, Beaverton, OR/Westview HS) just missed a double-double for the 'Cats, as he finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. Cantrell connected on 6 of 7 field goals.

Ian Mansfield (Sr., Post, Hillsboro, OR/Century HS) tacked on 11 points for Willamette. Kyler McClary (Jr., Post, Hillsboro, OR/Glencoe HS) and Corey Costantino (Jr., Wing, Ashland, OR/Ashland HS) scored 10 points each for the Bearcats.

Willamette point guard Robbie Kunke (Fr., Clackamas, OR/Clackamas HS) equaled a season high with seven assists. He also contributed seven points and five rebounds.

La Verne's top scorer was Drew Terry with 20 points. Terry also recorded nine rebounds. Robert Hughes scored 19 points, hauled down five boards and blocked three shots for the Leopards. Kyle Luhnow provided 11 points, three rebounds and two assists.

Each team experienced success for one half. In the opening 20 minutes, Willamette shot 60.7% from the field (17 of 28), including 3 of 6 on three-pointers. La Verne hit just 39.4% of its field goals in the first half (13 of 33), including 4 of 11 on three-pointers (36.4%).

In the second half, La Verne surged to 76.2% on field goals (16 of 21) and canned 5 of 8 three-pointers (62.5%). Meanwhile, the Bearcats dropped off to 42.4% shooting (14 of 33), with just 38.5% accuracy (5 of 13) on three-point attempts.

For the game, La Verne shot 53.7% from the floor, while Willamette connected on 50.8% of its field goals. Although the Leopards experienced hot field goals shooting in the second half, they finished the game with a 70-67 deficit in scoring from the field.

La Verne offset the scoring deficit by making 17 of 22 free throws (77.3%). Willamette was 11 of 18 (61.1%) at the line, well below the Bearcats' season average of 78.8% entering the game.

The Bearcats extended their halftime lead to 49-37 with 17:10 left, following a basket by Cantrell. ULV countered with an 18-6 run that tied the game, 55-55, with 10:54 on the clock.

Neither team led by more than three points over the next six minutes. Willamette led 68-67 at the 5:09 mark, before La Verne hit back-to-back shots from three-point range to take a 73-68 lead with 3:28 left.

A three-pointer by Matt Heyd with 1:54 to go gave ULV a 79-73 advantage. The Bearcats pulled within one point with 57 seconds remaining, after McClary scored on a three-pointer and Costantino tacked on a two-pointer.

Heyd added a point to increase La Verne's lead to 80-78 by hitting a free throw two seconds later. Mansfield missed a field goal that would have tied the game for Willamette with 30 seconds on the clock. Terry rebounded the ball for ULV.

Terry was fouled and hit two free throws. Heyd added a pair of charity shots with seven seconds left to secure the win for the Leopards.

The Bearcats will remain in California to take on Whittier College on Saturday, Dec. 1. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. (PST).

BOX SCORE
University of La Verne 84, Willamette University 81