Big First Half Sends Concordia to 69-55 Win over Willamette

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

PORTLAND, ORE. -- Concordia University built an almost-insurmountable lead in the first half, but Willamette University gave it a tremendous try in the second half, before falling 69-55, in a non-conference game on the CU campus. The Cavaliers held a 30-point lead after 20 minutes, only to see the Bearcats whittle the margin to 13 points at one point in the second period. Willamette fell to 2-5 on the season. Concordia improved to 4-4.

Concordia surged out to a 24-7 lead and continued to pull away from the Bearcats throughout the first half. Willamette made just 5 of 27 field goals (18.5%) and 2 of 8 free throws during the half. Concordia converted 17 of 28 shots (60.7%) over the first 20 minutes, including 6 of 14 on three-point attempts.

The Cavaliers held a 43-13 advantage at the intermission. Cody Aker led the first-half assault with 14 points. Corey Costantino (Jr. Wing, Ashland, OR/Ashland HS) and Cameron Mitchell (So., Post, Portland, OR/Grant HS/U. of Redlands) scored four points apiece for Willamette in the first half.

Willamette scored the first five points of the second half to start a 12-2 run. After a two-foot jumper by Kyler McClary (Jr., Post, Hillsboro, OR/Glencoe HS) with 15:15 remaining, the Bearcats trailed 45-25.

The Bearcats fell behind 52-29, but countered with a 6-0 run. A 3-pointer by Ricky Thompson (Fr., G, Temecula, CA/Temecula Valley HS) cut the deficit to 52-35 with less than 11:30 on the clock.

When McClary put in a layup off a great fast-break bounce pass from Tain Cantrell (Jr., Post, Beaverton, OR/Westview HS), the ‘Cats were within 56-40. Cantrell’s pass from the defensive side of mid-court, split two defenders and set up McClary for the score. McClary added a 3-pointer with 7:45 left, as WU moved within 56-43.

Concordia tallied the next basket on a tip-in by Matt Ochs to slow down WU’s momentum and Desmond Meray hit a 3-pointer with 5:33 remaining to extend the Cavaliers’ lead to 61-43. The baskets opened an 8-0 run for CU for a 64-43 advantage.

Willamette fell behind 69-47 before scoring the game’s final eight points. The Bearcats outscored the Cavalier, 42-26 in the second half.

Meray paced five CU players in double figures with 17 points. Aker contributed 16 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots. He registered just two points in the second half.

The Bearcats were led by McClary, who scored 12 points. He also blocked two shots and earned two steals. Robbie Kunke (Fr., G, Clackamas, OR/Clackamas HS) added 11 points and a game-high five assists. Cantrell led WU’s rebounding efforts with six boards.

Concordia finished the game at 49.1% shooting for the night (27 of 55). The Cavaliers made 8 of 22 three-pointers (36.4%) and went 7 of 9 at the line. CU also claimed a 32-27 rebounding edge.

WU improved to 65.4% from the field in the second period, as the ‘Cats made 17 of 26 shots, including 7 of 9 on three-pointers. The Bearcats shot 41.5% for the game (22 of 53).

Willamette returns to action Dec. 21-22at the Lawrence DeBoni Memorial Tournament at Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif. The Bearcats will open the tournament against Humboldt State on Friday, Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m. (PST). In the second round of the tourney, WU will take on Chico State at 5:30 p.m. (PST) on Saturday, Dec. 22.

Concordia University 69, Willamette University 55