Bearcats Hold Off Warriors to Win the Battle of Salem, 79-76

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Cameron Mitchell (Jr., Post, Portland, OR/Grant HS) of Willamette University scored on an inside jumper with 56 seconds remaining to break a 76-76 tie, then drew a charge by Ian Logan of Corban College 11 seconds later, helping WU hold off the Warriors, 79-76, on Friday, Dec. 12 at Cone Field House. Nick Babij (Sr., Wing, Ontario, OR/Ontario HS) added a free throw for the Bearcats with 34 seconds left.

Willamette earned its third win in a row, as the Bearcats evened their record at 3-3. Corban fell to 3-6 on the season. The game was the first contest between the cross-town rivals since Dec. 4, 2004, when Corban (then known as Western Baptist) defeated Willamette, 89-78, at Cone Field House.

Kyler McClary paced the Bearcats with 19 points. Mitchell finished with 17 points and eight rebounds, after ending the first half with two points and two boards. Babij contributed 10 points, nine rebounds and three assists.

Clay Martin topped Corban with 20 points, including 8 for 8 at the line. He also led all players with four steals. Ben Potloff added 19 points and was 7 of 11 from the floor. Logan provided the Warriors with 16 points and four assists.

The Bearcats led by as many as 15 points and owned a 13-point margin several times during the game, but Corban kept battling back. Willamette was in front 57-44 with 10:25 left in the second half and 62-51 at the 7:16 mark. Over the next two minutes, Corban rallied to cut the lead to four points, 64-60, with 5:13 to go. The Warriors made three 3-pointers during the run.

Willamette extended the lead to 73-63 when Josh Erickson sank two free throws with 3:51 remaining, but the Warriors went on a 13-3 run to tie the game. WU's only points during the run were scored on a 3-pointer by Marcus Holmes (So., PG, Seattle, WA/Garfield HS) with 2:34 left for a 76-70 lead. Clay Martin, who keyed the rally for Corban with eight points, scored his second 3-pointer of the run for 76-76 tie with 1:30 on the clock.

The 'Cats called timeout with 1:17 to go and Mitchell responded with the deciding basket. On Corban's next possession, Logan was called for a charge when he moved into Mitchell while droving through the lane.

In addition to turning the ball over to the Bearcats, the charging call also resulted in Logan leaving the game with his fifth foul of the night. Earlier, Erik Cronrath of Corban fouled out with 4:38 left.

Potloff of Corban fouled Babij with 34 seconds left. Babij made the first shot, but missed the second, as WU took a 79-76 lead. The Warriors were unable to get a clean shot over the next 22 seconds and called timeout with 12 seconds remaining.

After the timeout, the Warriors got the ball to Clay Martin, who was closely guarded by Babij. With several seconds left, Martin drove into the lane a few feet, then created a bit of separation with a fade-away move just behind the three-point line. Martin shot with three seconds left, but his attempt bounced off the left side of the rim and Babij hauled in the rebound as time expired.

McClary scored 16 of his 19 points for WU in the first half. The Bearcats trailed 17-15 at the 11:46 mark following a jumper by Wade Douglas, but Willamette countered with a 17-0 run.

The offensive surge featured baskets by six different Bearcats, including 3-pointers by McClary and Holmes. WU owned a 32-17 advantage with 5:56 left in the half. The 'Cats ended the half with Corey Costantino (Sr., Wing, Ashland, OR/Ashland HS) grabbing his own rebound and scoring on a layup as time expired for a 38-25 lead.

Willamette received solid play from throughout its lineup, as eight players scored four or more points and eight registered at least two rebounds. The Bearcats shot 47.5% overall (28 of 59) and made 8 of 16 three-pointers. WU also achieved a 35-32 rebounding margin.

Corban shot 45.0% for the game (27 of 60), but improved from 37.9% in the first half to 51.6% during the final 20 minutes. The Warriors were 6 of 17 on 3-pointers, including 6 of 12 in the second half.

The Bearcats do not play again until Monday, Dec. 29, when they will host Southern Oregon University. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. (PST).

BOX SCORE
Willamette University 79
Corban College 76
Cameron Mitchell broke a 76-76 tie on an inside basket with 56 seconds left.

Cameron Mitchell broke a 76-76 tie on an inside basket with 56 seconds left.

Nick Babij scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

Nick Babij scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds.