Mitchell's Double-Double Sends Willamette to 82-74 Win over NWC Co-Leader Whitworth

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

SPOKANE, WASH. -- Sophomore post Cameron Mitchell (Portland, OR/Grant HS/U. of Redlands) scored 27 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season, leading Willamette University to an 82-74 victory over Whitworth University, in a Northwest Conference game on Saturday, Feb. 2. Willamette improved to 8-11 on the season, including 6-4 in the NWC. Whitworth dropped to 15-4 overall, 8-2 in the NWC.

The game was tied at 61-61 with 5:47 left, but Whitworth never moved into the lead. Willamette took a five-point advantage, 75-70, when Mike Smith (Sr., Wing, Talent, OR/Phoenix HS) hit a 3-pointer with just under a minute remaining. The Pirates cut the margin to two points on a 3-pointer by Tim Sellereit, but Willamette received a layup from Mitchell with about 22 seconds left and the Bearcats sank five free throws the rest of the way.

Willamette shot 56.8% from the field (25 of 44), including 61.1% in the second half (11 of 18). Whitworth was successful on just 39.3% of its field goals (22 of 56), but hit nine three-pointers (on 25 attempts), while the Bearcats made just four 3-pointers (on 8 attempts). The 3-pointer by Smith as the game went into the final minute was Willamette's only basket from behind the arc in the second half.

Whitworth entered the game tied with the University of Puget Sound for first place in the conference standings. UPS also lost at home on Saturday, as the Loggers fell to George Fox University, 78-77. Whitworth and Puget Sound remain tied for the NWC lead at 8-2. Willamette, which entered the night in a four-way tie for third place, is now tied for third with Linfield College and Pacific Lutheran University, also 6-4.

Mitchell's 27 points and 16 boards established career highs for the transfer student from the University of Redlands. At Willamette, he has become a top player off the bench, averaging 10.3 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. On Saturday, he made 10 of 15 field goal attempts and hit 6 of 7 free throws.

Also scoring in double figures for Willamette were Smith, with 19 points, and Kyler McClary (Jr., Post, Hillsboro, OR/Glencoe HS), with 16 points. Smith was limited to just 4 of 10 shooting from the field, but converted 10 of 11 free throws. McClary connected on 5 of 9 attempts from the field and made 5 of 8 charity shots.

Freshman point guard Robbie Kunke (Clackamas, OR/Clackamas HS) also set a career high with nine assists. Mitchell, Corey Costantino (Jr., Wing, Ashland, OR/Ashland HS) and Tain Cantrell (Jr., Post, Beaverton, OR/Westview HS) each blocked one shot by the Pirates.

Whitworth received 19 points from Ryan Symes, who hit 4 of 10 field goals and made 10 of 10 free throws. Symes also grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds to complete a double-double. David Riley added 17 points and seven rebounds, while Sellereit tallied 16 points and Colin Willemsen chipped in with 12 points.

The Pirates rallied from as many as 12 points down in the second half by hitting six three-pointers. Willamette owned a 47-35 lead following a layup and foul shot by Smith with 15:39 on the clock, but the lead quickly dwindled to six points when Whitworth countered with a pair of 3-pointers in the next 37 seconds.

Willamette was in front 59-54 after Mitchell scored on a layup and a free throw with 9:27 remaining, but the Pirates received a 3-pointer from Ryan Symes with 7:56 remaining to start a 6-1 run to tied the game a little more than two minutes later.

Smith broke the tie by sinking a pair of free throws at the 5:19 mark. Mitchell extended the lead to 65-61 on a layup with 4:51 to go. Whitworth cut the lead in half on a layup by Symes, but Willamette tallied the next six pionts for a 71-65 advantage with 2:43 left.

Whitworth pulled within two points on a jumper by Symes with 1:27 on the clock and moved within two points again when Sellereit hit his 3-pointer in the final minute.

Both teams kept control of the ball throughout the contest, but Whitworth gained a slight edge in possession by committing just seven turnovers, while the 'Cats lost the ball 10 times. Willamette achieved small lead on the glass, as the Beacats hauled down 31 boards, compared to 29 rebounds for the Pirates.

Willamette will play its third consecutive road game on Friday, Feb. 8 at George Fox University. Game time in Newberg, Ore., is set for 8 p.m. (PST). Willamette edged GFU, 73-71 in overtime, on Jan. 11 in Salem, Ore.

BOX SCORE
Willamette University 82, Whitworth University 74
Cameron Mitchell scored a career-high 27 points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds against Whitworth.

Cameron Mitchell scored a career-high 27 points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds against Whitworth.