Chico State Overcomes Early 20-Point Deficit to Defeat Bearcats, 80-66

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

ARCATA, CALIF. -- Willamette University surged out to a 24-4 lead, but Chico State (Calif.) rallied to take a 42-35 halftime advantage, as the Wildcats defeated the Bearcats, 80-66, in the second round of the Lawrence DeBeni Memorial Tournament, Saturday, Dec. 22 at Humboldt State University. Willamette fell to 2-7 on the season, while Chico State improved to 4-5.

In the final game of the DeBeni Tournament, host Humboldt State defeated Seattle University, 70-64. HSU won the tournament title with a 2-0 record.

Willamette has played a challenging pre-conference schedule. Five of WU's seven losses have been to scholarship programs from NCAA Division II or the NAIA. Willamette competes in NCAA Division III. Chico State is a member of NCAA Division II.

Mike Smith (Sr., Wing, Talent, OR/Phoenix HS) scored 17 points for the Bearcats against Chico State. Smith connected on 6 of 8 field goals, including 2 of 3 three-pointers. Kyler McClary (Jr., Post, Hillsboro, OR/Glencoe HS) added 14 points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal. He scored eight points in the first 2:30 of the game, as WU built a 12-0 lead.

The advantage increased to 20-2 after a 3-point basket by Corey Costantino (Jr., Wing, Ashland, OR/Ashland HS) with 15:25 left in the opening half. Ricky Thompson (Fr., PG, Temecula, CA/Temecula Valley HS) hit a jumper at the 13:17 mark for a 24-4 lead and Costantino sank another 3-pointer to give WU a 27-8 advantage with 12:16 left in the period.

WU also led 33-24 before Chico State responded with an 18-0 run to take a 42-33 lead. The Wildcats held a 34-33 margin with 3:47 left in the half, following a layup by 6'10" center Shane Bradley. After Chico State increased its lead to nine points, Willamette tallied the final three points of the half. Chico State led 42-35 at the break.

Tain Cantrell (Jr., Post, Beaverton, OR/Westview HS) and Smith each provided Willamette with a layup early in the second half, as the Bearcats reduced the Wildcats' lead to 42-39. WU also trailed by just three points, 45-42, following a 3-pointer by Smith with 15:50 remaining.

Later, Costantino sank a 3-pointer at the 6:18 mark to pull WU within six points at 65-59. Chico State countered with a 6-0 run to take a 71-59 lead with 5:33 to go. The Wildcats led by at least 11 points the rest of the game.

Bradley topped Chico State with 17 points on 8 of 9 shooting. He also grabbed four rebounds. Darroll Phillips tacked on 15 points, while hitting 5 of 12 field goals, including 4 of 10 three-pointers.

For Willamette, Smith and McClary were joined in double figures by Costantino, who scored 11 points and made three 3-pointers. Cantrell led both teams with a game-high seven rebounds.

WU shot 48.1% from the field (23 of 49), including 7 of 19 (37.5%) from three-point range. The Bearcats made 13 of 18 free throws (61.5%) and achieved a 32-31 rebounding edge, but committed 18 turnovers.

Chico State made just 12 turnovers and had 10 offensive rebounds, as the Wildcats attempted 12 more field goals than the Bearcats. Chico State went 29 of 61 from the field (47.5%) and connected on 13 of 30 three-pointers
(8 of 15 in the second half). The Wildcats sank 9 of 14 free throws.

McClary was named to the All-Tournament Team. Also chosen as All-Tournament selections were Grayson Moyer of Humboldt State (MVP), Phillips of Chico State, Michael Knight of Seattle University, Ryan Coldre of Seattle University and Ernie Spada of Humboldt State

Willamette does not play again until Friday, Jan. 4, when the Bearcats will open Northwest Conference play by hosting Whitman College. Game time at Cone Field House is scheduled for 8 p.m. (PST).

Chico State (Calif.) 80, Willamette University 66