Bearcats Rally From Eight-Point Halftime Deficit to Down Pioneers, 60-58

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University trailed by eight points at halftime, but the Bearcats shot 52.4% in the second half to rally past Lewis & Clark College, 60-58, in a Northwest Conference game at Cone Field House on Saturday, Feb. 14. Cameron Mitchell (Jr., Post, Portland, OR/Grant HS/U. of Redlands) led the Bearcats with 16 points, 18 rebounds and five blocked shots.

Willamette hit 11 of 21 field goals in the final period to finish the game at 45.8% (22 of 48). L&C shot just 25.0% over the final 20 minutes (7 of 28). The Pioneers shot 33.9% for the game (21 of 62).

Robbie Kunke (So., PG, Clackamas, OR/Clackamas HS) helped engineer Willamette's comeback, as he earned six of his game-high seven assists during the second half. Kunke also scored five points after the halftime break. He finished the game with seven points, seven rebounds and two steals.

David Berggren topped Lewis & Clark with 24 points and 12 rebounds. He made three 3-point shots and went 7 for 10 at the free throw line.

Willamette moved above the .500 mark at 11-10 for the season. The 'Cats evened their Northwest Conference record at 7-7. Lewis & Clark ended the night at 15-8 overall, 9-5 in the NWC. Willamette also defeated the Pioneers in January, 75-73, in Portland, Ore.

In the first meeting, L&C held a 35-32 lead at halftime. In the rematch, the Pioneers were in front, 32-24, at the intermission.

The Bearcats scored the first six points of the second half to pull within 32-30 at the 18:24 mark. Mitchell scored two layups during the run, while Corey Costantino (Sr., Wing, Ashland, OR/Ashland HS) added two free throws.

WU tied the game at 35-35 with 15:08 left, when Nick Babij (Sr., Wing, Ontario, OR/Ontario HS) made three free throws after being fouled on a long-range shot. WU took its first lead of the game, 37-35, less than a minute later, on a layup by Mitchell with 14:18 to go.

The second half included six ties and five lead changes. WU forced the fifth tie when Kyler McClary (Sr., Post, Hillsboro, OR/Glencoe HS) sank two free throws with 2:43 left. L&C regained the lead 16 seconds later on a 3-pointer by James Hollins. The game's final tie, 55-55, was achieved with 2:09 left, as McClary answered with a 3-point basket for the Bearcats.

Berggren failed on a 3-point attempt for L&C with 1:48 to go. Mitchell gave Willamette the lead for good with a layup -- assisted by Kunke -- with 1:15 on the clock. Kunke increased the lead to 59-55 by sinking a pair of free throws at the 57-second mark.

On L&C's next possession, the Pioneers had three chances at cutting the lead to a single point. Tyler Tsukazaki, Hollins and Berggren each missed a 3-pointer, with L&C gaining a pair of offensive rebounds between the attempts. After Berggren was unsuccessful with 32 seconds on the clock, WU took under the Pios' basket with 28 seconds to go.

Mitchell was fouled immediately after the in-bounds play. He missed both free throws. Kyle Meeuwsen rebounded the second miss for Lewis & Clark. Berggren buried a 3-pointer with 19 seconds remaining to cut WU's lead to 59-58.

Scott Schoettgen (Fr., Wing, Columbia, CA/Sonora HS) was fouled by Drake Green of L&C with 15 seconds left. Green fouled out on the play. After L&C substituted for Green, Schoettgen missed the first free throw. He sank the second charity shot for a 60-58 advantage.

Hollins launched a potential game-winning 3-pointer with three seconds left. The shot missed and Kunke recorded the rebound to seal the win for the Bearcats.

Mitchell went 8 for 11 from the field. He was joined in double figures by McClary, who finished with 10 points. The Bearcats outrebounded the Pioneers, 40-33.

Willamette struggled for much of the first half. The Bearcats trailed 15-5 less than five minutes into the game, as WU missed five of its first seven shots, while L&C benefited from a pair of 3-pointers by Tsukazaki and one trifecta by Berggren.

Even with 12 first-half turnovers, the Bearcats were still able to get within 19-18 at the 8:13 mark and 21-20 following a layup by Schoettgen with 7:32 left in the period. Lewis & Clark tallied the next seven points.

BOX SCORE
Willamette University 60
Lewis & Clark College 58
Robbie Kunke earned seven points, seven assists, seven boards and two steals against the Pioneers.

Robbie Kunke earned seven points, seven assists, seven boards and two steals against the Pioneers.

Cameron Mitchell blocked five shots against Lewis & Clark.

Cameron Mitchell blocked five shots against Lewis & Clark.