Whittier Nips Bearcats by 80-77 Final Score

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

WHITTIER, CALIF. -- Willamette University lost by three points on the road for the second day in a row, as Whittier College defeated the Bearcats, 80-77, in Whittier, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 1. The Bearcats fell to the University of La Verne, 84-81, in La Verne, Calif., on Friday. Willamette fell to 2-4 after losing to the Poets, while Whittier improved to 3-1.

The Bearcats trailed 41-32 at halftime and fell behind by 13 points early in the second half. After Whittier built a 47-34 lead, Willamette rallied with an 18-9 run and moved within 56-52 on a free throw by Ricky Thompson (Fr., PG, Temecula, CA/Temecula HS) with 11:11 remaining. The 'Cats also pulled within four points at 59-55 on a layup and foul shot by Cameron Mitchell (So., Post, Portland, OR/Grant HS/U. of Redlands) at the 9:59 mark.

Whittier used an 8-2 run to regain a double-digit lead, 67-57, with 6:35 remaining. The Poets were in front 71-60 with 5:11 to go, but WU cut the margin back to four points, with a 7-0 run, ending with a layup by Kyler McClary (Jr., Post, Hillsboro, OR/Glencoe HS) with 2:55 left.

At the 1:24 mark, Willamette's Mike Smith (Sr., Wing, Talent, OR/Phoenix HS) hit a three-pointer to move WU within three points at 73-70. Michael Archuletta made a pair of free throws for Whittier with 1:09 remaining and A.J. Manalo tacked on two more charity tosses with 57 seconds left, as the Poets claimed a 77-70 lead.

The 'Cats called time-out after a jumper by Smith with 43 seconds to go, but Whittier scored 15 seconds later on a dunk by Vernon Covington to regain a seven-point edge. WU outscored Whittier 5-1 the rest of the way and pulled within 80-77 on a jump shot by Corey Costantino (Jr., Wing, Ashland, OR/Ashland HS) with three seconds left.

McClary led Willamette with a career-high 24 points. He connected on 9 of 17 field goals and 5 of 8 free throws. He also provided nine rebounds.

Mitchell registered his third double-double of the season for the 'Cats. He tallied 11 points and led all players on both teams with 13 rebounds. Costantino recorded 16 points and eight boards for the Bearcats, while Thompson finished with 13 points and four rebounds.

Marcus Gibson topped Whittier with 17 points. Covington scored 12 points to go with four rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal. Archuletta concluded the game with eight points, eight boards and five assists.

Whittier shot 51.8% on the night (29 of 56) and hit 16 of 22 free throws (72.7%). The Poets made 5 of 7 three-pointers in the first half (71.4%), but sank just 1 of 7 trifectas in the second half (14.3%).

The Bearcats achieved a 42-31 rebounding edge, including 16 offensive boards. WU converted 43.8% of its field goals (28 of 64), but made just 3 of 13 three-pointers (23.1%) and 18 of 28 free throws (64.3%). Both teams kept control of the ball, as WU committed just 11 turnovers and Whittier was credited with only 10 turnovers.

Willamette, which has played all six games on the road, will travel to Portland, Ore., on Saturday, Dec. 8 to take on Concordia University. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (PST).

Whittier College 80, Willamette University 77
Kyler McClary hit the nets for a career-high 24 points to go with nine rebounds against Whittier College on Dec. 1.

Kyler McClary hit the nets for a career-high 24 points to go with nine rebounds against Whittier College on Dec. 1.