Smith Scores 22 Points, McClary Adds 18, as Bearcats Win at Whitman, 78-66

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

WALLA WALLA, WASH. -- Senior wing Mike Smith (Talent, OR/Phoenix HS) and sophomore post Cameron Mitchell (Portland, OR/Grant HS/U. of Redlands) supplied every point in a 9-0 run midway through the second half, propelling Willamette University into a 12-point lead, and the Bearcats went on to defeat Whitman College, 78-66, Friday, Feb. 1 at the Sherwood Center. Smith finished with a game-high 22 points, as Willamette moved to 7-11 overall, 5-4 in the Northwest Conference. Whitman dropped to 4-13, 0-9 in the NWC.

Smith hit 8 of 12 field goals, including 4 of 6 three-pointers. He also grabbed five rebounds and provided two assists. Kyler McClary (Jr., Post, Hillsboro, OR/Glencoe HS) tacked on 18 points for Willamette, as he made 5 of 10 field goals and was a perfect 8 for 8 at the line.

Corey Costantino (Jr., Wing, Ashland, OR/Ashland HS) provided Willamette with 12 points, while Mitchell finished with eight points and four rebounds in just 15 minutes of playing time. Tain Cantrell (Jr., Post, Beaverton, OR/Westview HS) hauled down a game-high seven boards, while supplying six points, three assists and two steals.

Whitman was paced by Chris Faidley, who scored 20 points, while contributing six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Faidley, the NWC's leading scorer, entered the game averaging 24.4 points per contest.

Jordan Wheeler added 16 points for the Missionaries. Garth Brandal chipped in 11 points and three assists. Graham Brewer and Keefe Piper each scored eight points for Whitman.

Willamette surged in front 16-8 during the first 5:31 of the game, with McClary providing eight points. Whitman rallied to take a 27-25 lead on a 3-pointer by Max Adcox with 7:29 left in the period. WU tallied the next six points, including a trifecta by Smith, but the Missionaries answered with a 6-0 run of their own. Two jumpers by Cantrell in the final 1:36 gave the Bearcats a 35-33 lead at the break.

After the intermission, Wheeler sank a 3-pointer for Whitman to give the Missionaries a quick lead just nine seconds into the new half. The lead was short-lived, as Costantino responded with a 3-pointer for Willamette twenty seconds later.

WU led the rest of the game, but held a slim advantage, 56-53, after Adcox hit a 3-pointer for Whitman at the 10:03 mark. The 'Cats followed with their 9-0 run, as Smith scored the first five points on a jumper and a 3-point basket. Mitchell added the next two points on a jumper at the 7:58 mark. Mitchell also converted two free throws with 7:24 remaining to complete the run, giving WU a 65-53 lead.

The Bearcats converted 20 of 22 free throws (90.0%) during the contest to tie for the fourth-highest single game free throw shooting percentage in Willamette history (min. 20 attempts). The WU record of 95.5% (21 of 22) was set against Whitman on Jan. 23, 1999.

Two years ago, Willamette hit 19 of 19 free throws against Whitman on Feb. 4, 2006. That performance barely missed making the WU record book, as the Bearcats finished one free throw shy of 20 attempts.

In Friday's win, the 'Cats connected on 3 of 3 free throws in the first half, then made 17 of 19 charity shots in the second half. Whitman, which did not attempt a free throw during the first 20 minutes, finished the game 8 for 11 (72.7%) at the line.

WU sank 26 of 49 field goals (53.1%) against the Missionaries, while hitting 6 of 11 three-pointers (54.5%). Whitman shot 46.4% during the game (26 of 56), but converted just 30.0% from 3-point range (6 of 20). The Bearcats achieved a 32-22 rebounding advantage, including 18-9 in the second half.

With the victory, Willamette moved into a four-way tie for third place in the Northwest Conference standings. Joining the Bearcats at 5-4 are Linfield College, Lewis & Clark College and Pacific Lutheran University. The University of Puget Sound and Whitworth University are tied for the NWC lead at 8-1.

The Bearcats will remain on the road to take on Whitworth on Saturday, Feb. 2. Game time in Spokane, Wash., is scheduled for 8 p.m. (PST).

BOX SCORE
Willamette University 78, Whitman College 66
Mike Smith has scored 20 or more points six times this season. He is WU's top scorer with 16.8 points per game.

Mike Smith has scored 20 or more points six times this season. He is WU's top scorer with 16.8 points per game.