Whitworth Escapes Cone Field House in Overtime, 72-65

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Whitworth University moved in front for good on a jumper and foul shot by Colin Willemsen with 3:53 left in overtime, and the Pirates went on to defeat Willamette University, 72-65, in a Northwest Conference game played at Cone Field House on Saturday, Jan. 5. Whitworth, which led most of the second half, but trailed several times late in regulation, improved to 7-3 overall, 1-1 in the NWC. Willamette fell to 3-8 overall, 1-1 in the NWC.

Willamette trailed 50-42 with 10:28 remaining, after Ross Nakamura of Whitworth sank one of his game-high seven three-pointers. The Bearcats scored the next eight points to tie the game and later held a 61-58 lead on a 3-pointer by Mike Smith (Sr., Wing, Talent, OR/Phoenix HS) at the 1:57 mark. Smith finished with six three-point baskets.

The Pirates tied the game at 61-61 with 1:43 to go, when Nakamura made a layup and added a foul shot. Willamette moved back in front on a free throw by Ian Mansfield (Sr., Post, Hillsboro, OR/Century HS) with 44 seconds left and took a 63-61 lead on a free throw by Kyler McClary (Jr., Post, Hillsboro, OR/Glencoe HS) with 17 seconds remaining.

McClary missed the second free throw and Nate Montgomery grabbed the rebound for Whitworth. The Pirates forced the game into overtime when Montgomery scored on a jumper with six seconds left. Corey Costantino (Jr., Wing, Ashland, OR/Ashland HS) missed a 30-foot three-pointer at the buzzer.

Neither team scored in the first minute of overtime. Willemsen's go-ahead jumper and free throw started a 7-0 run by the Pirates, who made 2 of 4 field goals and 5 of 5 free throws during the extra session. Willamette was 0 of 6 from the field (0 of 5 on three-pointers) in overtime.

After Willemsen's basket, the Bearcats had a chance to tie the game, when Smith was fouled on a 3-point shot. Smith, who entered the game 25 of 28 (89.3%) on free throws, missed all three shots, as Whitworth maintained its 66-63 lead. Willamette's only points in overtime were on a pair of free throws by McClary with nine seconds left.

Nakamura, who finished 8 of 12 from the field (7 of 10 on threes), led Whitworth with 26 points. Willemsen and Montgomery tacked on 15 points each, while Ryan Symes scored nine. Symes also led the Pirates with nine rebounds, helping Whitworth claim a 36-34 rebounding margin.

Smith was 7 of 12 on field goals, including 6 of 11 on three-pointers, as he led the Bearcats with 22 points, tying his career high. McClary added 17 points and eight rebounds. Mansfield provided seven points and eight boards, while Robbie Kunke (Fr., PG, Clackamas, OR/Clackamas HS) chipped in seven points. Tain Cantrell (Jr., Post, Beaverton, OR/Westview HS) hauled down seven boards for the 'Cats.

The Pirates shot 42.1% for the game (24 of 57) and hit 11 of 21 three-pointers (52.4%). Whitworth also connected on 13 of 16 free throws (81.3%). Willamette was close to Whitworth on field goal shooting at 23 of 55 (41.8%), but made only 10 of 16 free throws (62.5%) and just 9 of 31 three-pointers (29.0%).

Whitworth is the defending NWC Tournament champion. The Pirates tied for the NWC regular season title in 2006-07 with a 13-3 conference record.

Willamette will return to NWC action on Friday, Jan. 11, when the Bearcats host George Fox University. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m. (PST).

BOX SCORE
Whitworth University 72, Willamette University 65 (OT)
Mike Smith scored 22 points to tie a career high against defending NWC champion Whitworth. Smith hit six three-pointers during the game.

Mike Smith scored 22 points to tie a career high against defending NWC champion Whitworth. Smith hit six three-pointers during the game.