Vikings Hold Off Bearcats in Portland, 97-90

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

PORTLAND, ORE. -- Portland State University held off Willamette University, 97-90, in men's college basketball action on Tuesday, Dec. 29 at the Peter W. Stott Center. PSU, from NCAA Division I, upped its record to 6-7. Willamette, from NCAA Division III, fell to 3-6 on the season.

WU and PSU were delayed several hours due to road conditions. It took the Bearcats 5 hours and 45 minutes to get from Willamette to Portland State, a trip that would normally take about 45 minutes.

Cameron Mitchell (Sr., Post, Portland, OR/Grant HS/U. of Redlands) from Willamette scored 28 points to reach exactly 1,000 points in his collegiate career, including his freshman year at the University of Redlands. Mitchell is in his third season at Willamette. Melvin Jones topped PSU with 27 points.

The Bearcats and the Vikings were tied twice and exchanged the lead four times before the game was just over six minutes old. WU trailed 10-7 and 15-11, but tied the game at 15-15 on a 3-pointer by Ryan Meehan (So., G, Beaverton, OR/Beaverton HS/MSU-Billings) with 13:59 left in the half.

PSU countered with a 3-pointer by Dominic Waters to take an 18-15 advantage. After Robbie Kunke (Jr., Wing, Clackamas, OR/Clackamas HS) cut the lead to a single point on a layup with 13:17 left, the Vikings tallied four consecutive points to increase the margin to 22-17.

Willamette's Taylor Mounts (So., Post, Kailua, HI/Iolani School) tallied the next four points on a turn-around jumper and a fast-break layup. PSU led 22-21 at the 12:05 mark.

The Vikings scored 10 unanswered points to take a 32-21 lead with 9:14 remaining in the half. WU cut the margin to 32-26 with 8:03 on the clock, but PSU responded with an 8-0 run. The Vikings were in front by at least 10 points during the remainder of the half and held a 52-39 advantage at the break.

Jones recorded 14 points for Portland State in the first half. Mitchell led WU at halftime with 10 points and was tied for the team lead with five rebounds. Scott Schoettgen (So., Wing, Columbia, CA/Sonora HS) also grabbed five boards for the Bearcats during the first half.

PSU opened the second half with a 8-4 run to extend the lead to 17 points at 60-43 with 17:46 remaining. Willamette got back into the game with a 7-0 run that cut the deficit to 60-50 following a 3-pointer by Meehan at the 16:32 mark.

The Bearcats cut the lead to just seven points, 71-64, on a pair of free throws by Kunke with 12:43 left. WU also trailed by seven at 73-66, following a jumper by Mitchell with 10:46 to go.

A 7-0 offensive surge by Portland State gave the Vikings an 80-66 advantage. Holmes stopped the run by hitting the first of two free throws for WU with 8:23 left. The free throw by Holmes began a string of eight consecutive points for the Bearcats, as Willamette moved within 80-74 with 6:30 on the clock.

Julius Thomas sank a jump shot on PSU's next possession, but Mitchell connected on a layup at the 5:26 mark. The Vikings extended their lead to 89-76 with seven points in a row, ending with a 3-pointer by Jones with 3:51 left.

WU pulled within 91-83 with 1:53 to go on a 3-pointer by Mounts. Waters made two free throws for PSU 14 seconds later, giving the Vikings a 10-point edge. The Bearcats cut the deficit to seven points two times in the final minute, but PSU hit 5 of 6 free throws in the final 33 seconds to secure the win.

Mitchell was one of five Bearcats in double figures. Mounts contributed 13 points and Meehan added 12. Schoettgen produced 11 points off the bench and matched Meehan by going 3 of 5 on three-pointers. Holmes finished with 10 points and six assists.

Kunke led all players with 10 assists and also earned eight points and five steals. Mitchell hauled down nine rebounds, while Schoettgen and Mounts each grabbed five boards. Meehan achieved two assists, two steals and two blocked shots.

Melvin Jones was joined by three other Vikings with double-digit scoring. Waters provided 18 points. Thomas scored 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds and earned four assists, two blocked shots and two steals.

Jamie Jones tallied 13 points to go with a game-high three blocked shots. He went 4 for 4 on field goals and was 5 for 6 at the free throw line.

Willamette shot 49.3% for the game (33 of 67), including 51.4% (19 of 37) in the second half. The Bearcats were successful on 10 of 23 three-pointers (43.5%) and hit 14 of 21 free throws.

The Vikings nearly matched WU with 49.2% field goal accuracy (31 of 63), including 7 of 21 (33.3%) on 3-pointers. Portland State gained an edge at the charity stripe by converting 28 of 35 free throws (80.0%). PSU also attained a 41-34 rebounding advantage.

Both teams had difficulty controlling the ball during one half of the game. WU committed 15 turnovers in the first half, but lost the all just six times over the final 20 minutes. PSU made only seven turnovers in the first half, but committed 15 in the second half.

The Bearcats will open Northwest Conference play this weekend, when they will host Whitworth University on Saturday, Jan. 2 and Whitman College on Sunday, Jan. 3.Tip-off in both games is set for 3 p.m. (PST), following NWC contests involving the WU women's team.

BOX SCORE
Portland State University 97
Willamette University 90
Cameron Mitchell led Willamette with 28 points. He has scored 1,000 career points, including 858 points in three years at WU.

Cameron Mitchell led Willamette with 28 points. He has scored 1,000 career points, including 858 points in three years at WU.