Willamette Avenges Loss to Lutes, Defeats PLU, 80-71

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University received double-digit scoring efforts from Kyler McClary (Jr., Post, Hillsboro, OR/Glencoe HS), Corey Costantino (Jr., Wing, Ashland, OR/Ashland HS) and Simon Currie (Jr., Wing/Post, Bend, OR/Mountain View HS), as the Bearcats defeated Pacific Lutheran University in a Northwest Conference game on Saturday, Feb. 9. Willamette sank 34 of 43 free throws (79.1%) and all nine Bearcats who played hit at least one charity shot.

McClary connected on 6 of 8 field goals and made 7 of 8 free throws to lead the 'Cats with 19 points. Costantino tacked on 16 points, while hitting 8 of 10 free throws. Currie tallied 12 points and went 6 for 6 at the line.

Josh Dressler of PLU topped all players with 27 points. He recorded 16 points in the second half and finished with five rebounds and four assists on the night. Scott McDaniels, who entered the game averaging 18.8 points per contest, was held to 10 points by the Bearcats, as he made just 4 of 10 field goals.

With the win, Willamette moved into a tie for third place in the NWC at 7-5. The Bearcats are tied with Linfield College and Lewis & Clark College, the next two opponents on WU's home schedule. Willamette will host Linfield on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. (PST) and will take on Lewis & Clark at Cone Field House on Saturday, Feb. 16.

PLU fell to 6-6 in the NWC, tied with Pacific University for sixth in the conference. The University of Puget Sound holds first place at 9-3, with Whitworth in second place at 8-4.

The Bearcats improved to 9-12 overall with their fifth win in the last seven games. Pacific Lutheran dropped to 10-10 on the season. PLU defeated Willamette, 106-88, in Tacoma, Wash., on Jan. 12.

Pacific Lutheran held an 11-9 lead at the 14:45 mark of the first half, then extended the advantage to 22-9 with an 11-0 run. Willamette scored the next five points, including a basket and a foul shot by Mike Smith (Sr., Wing, Talent, OR/Phoenix HS), to cut the lead to 22-14.

The Bearcats continued to rally and tied the game at 25-25 on a 3-pointer by Currie with 6:29 left in the half. Jared Brandeberry hit one of two free throws at the 6:09 mark to give PLU the lead, but Willamette concluded the half with a 10-1 run. The 'Cats were in front, 35-27, at the break.

WU put in the first six points of the second period to increase the lead to 14 points at 41-27. The lead reached 50-34 on a jumper by Robbie Kunke (Fr., PG, Clackamas, OR/Clackamas HS) with 13:02 remaining.

The Lutes countered with a 9-0 run, starting with 3-pointers by Curtis Trondsen and Kyle MacTaggart. PLU cut the lead to 50-43 with 10:28 to go.

A three-pointer by Kunke gave Willamette a 60-47 advantage with 9:13 left. The Bearcats owned a 68-53 margin at the 6:19 mark, following two free throws by McClary.

Pacific Lutheran tallied eight of the next nine points to pull within 69-61 with 4:26 on the clock. WU responded with a 9-0 run, ending with a 3-pointer by Costantino with 2:56 remaining. PLU managed to reduce the lead to 79-69 at the 1:28 mark, but couldn't cut the margin to single digits until McDaniels hit two free throws with 56 seconds left for the final points of the game.

The Bearcats limited PLU to 35.5% shooting from the field (22 of 62). Pacific Lutheran made 8 of 21 three-point shots (38.1%) and connected on 19 of 30 free throws (63.3%). Willamette hit 40.8% on field goals (20 of 49) and made 6 of 18 three-pointers (33.3%).

Willamette edged the Lutes, 40-39, on the glass. Currie and Tain Cantrell (Jr., Post, Beaverton, OR/Westview HS) each grabbed six rebounds to lead the Bearcats. McClary and Cameron Mitchell (So., Post, Portland, OR/Grant HS/U. of Redlands) added five boards apiece. Landon Heidenreich was PLU's leading rebounder with seven. Kunke provided Willamette with a game-high six assists.

BOX SCORE
Willamette University 80, Pacific Lutheran University 71
Simon Currie scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds against PLU.

Simon Currie scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds against PLU.