Bearcat Hoop Game Night: Bruins Up Next for Willamette

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University will take on George Fox University in a Northwest Conference men's basketball game on Friday, Jan. 15, starting at 6 p.m. (PST) in Newberg, Ore. The Bearcats will be seeking their first NWC victory of the season as they battle the Bruins.

WU enters the game with a 3-11 overall record, including 0-5 in the NWC. George Fox is 5-8 overall, 2-2 in the NWC.

Previous Game

Willamette vs. Lewis & Clark

On Tuesday, Jan. 12, the Lewis & Clark College Pioneers hit 20 of 43 three-point shots to defeat Willamette, 93-88, in NWC action. The Pioneers ended a string of four consecutive losses to the Bearcats and improved to 3-10 for the season, 2-3 in the conference.

Cameron Mitchell (Sr., Post, Portland, OR/Grant HS/U. of Redlands) led Willamette with 22 points and nine rebounds. All five Willamette starters finished in double figures.

Joining Mitchell with double-digit scoring were Ryan Meehan (So., Beaverton, OR/Beaverton HS/MSU-Billings) with 14 points, Terrell Malley (Fr., Guard, Portland, OR/Roosevelt HS) and Marcus Holmes (Jr., G, Seattle, WA/Garfield HS) with 13 points apiece, and Robert Wood (Sr., Wing, Keizer, OR/McNary HS/Chemeketa CC) with 12 points. The Bearcats shot 53.1% as a team (34 of 64).

L&C was paced by James Hollins, who scored 24 points. Tyler Tsukazaki tacked on 19 points for the Pioneers, while Kelly Edwards chipped in 18 points.

The Pioneers' 3-point barrage included 13-of-22 shooting (59.1%) on long-range attempts in the second half. For the game, Tsukazaki hit six 3-pointers to lead the Pioneers. P.J. Taylor was 5 of 10 on 3-point shots and scored 15 points, while Hollins hit 5 of 11 three-pointers.

Willamette took a 9-0 lead in the first two minutes, while forcing L&C into four turnovers. The Pioneers rallied to tied the game 14-14 at the 14:59 mark. Four of L&C's first five baskets were from 3-point range. All four of the 3-pointers were scored by Tsukazaki.

L&C owned a 28-23 edge after Hollins scored on a jumper with 5:21 remaining in the half, but Meehan put in a 3-pointer for Willamette less than a minute later. Neither team led by more than two points the rest of the half. Lewis & Clark was in front, 33-32, at the break.

The Pioneers broke a 38-38 deadlock with a 3-pointer by Tsukazaki -- his sixth and final trifecta of the night -- with 16:46 left. Tsukazaki's basket started a 14-4 run that pulled L&C into a 52-42 lead with 14:25 to go.

Willamette eventually tied the scored on two occasions, then took a 70-69 lead when Mitchell grabbed his own rebound and scored with 5:19 left. Hollins sank a 3-pointer for L&C 19 seconds later and the Pioneers never relinquished the lead.

Tonight's Opponent

George Fox University
Nickname: Bruins
Location: Newberg, Ore.
Affiliations: NCAA Division III, Northwest Conference
2008-09 Record: 8-17, 4-12 (3rd place tie)
2009-10 Record: 5-8, 2-2 NWC
Last Meeting: WU won 87-82 on Feb. 20, 2009 in Newberg

The teams split their two meetings last season, with each team winning on the road. George Fox held off Willamette for a 75-70 victory in Salem on Jan. 23, 2009. Willamette defeated the Bruins 87-82 in Newberg on Feb. 20.

In the first meeting, GFU led 59-51 with 7:49 to go, but Willamette pulled within 71-70 on a 3-pointer by Kyler McClary with 1:07 to go. The Bruins connected on 4 of 4 free throws in the final 17 seconds to secure the win.

Willamette owned a 72-62 lead with 7:02 remaining in the second game. The Bruins cut the lead to 78-76 when Evan Atwater hit a 3-pointer with 2:38 left. Mitchell scored layups with 2:05 and 1:44 left to give WU a six-point lead. GFU got back within 85-82 at the 54-second mark, but Mitchell scored the final points on a layup with 20 seconds left.

This year, the Bruins are averaging 71.6 points per game, while allowing 79.3 points per contest. GFU is shooting 43.4% from the field and 38.4% on 3-pointers. The Bruins' opponents have been successful on 47.3% of their field goals, but have been held to just 31.4% on 3-point attempts.

George Fox has five players averaging in double figures. Alex Stockner ranks first on the scoring chart with 14.8 points per game. Rich Smith is next with 13.3 points per contest. Smith also leads the Bruins iwth 7.4 rebounds per game.

Three other Bruins are averaging between 11 and 12 points per game. They are Jack Martin (11.8 avg.), Stephen Wiseley (11.4 avg.) and Atwater (11.3 avg.).

GFU is shooting 71.9% on free throws, compared to 68.9% for the Bruins' opponents. Even so, George Fox has scored fewer points at the line that its foes, as the Bruins are 184 of 256 at the line and their opponents are 210 of 305.

Bearcat Fast Breaks

* Both teams shot well in the second half of Willamette's game against Lewis & Clark on Tuesday. Willamette was successful on 22 of 33 field goals (66.7%) over the final 20 minutes, while the Pioneers made 19 of 33 shots (57.1%).

* Cameron Mitchell had one of his best games as a Bearcat in the last meeting between Willamette and George Fox. He scored 24 points and grabbed 21 rebounds to lead WU to the win in Newberg last year.

* This year, Mitchell leads the Northwest Conference in scoring and rebounding. He is averaging 19.9 points per game and 12.2 rebounds per contest. He is third in the NWC in field goal shooting 56.6% and is second in blocked shots (1.43 avg.).

* Also averaging in double figures for the Bearcats are Taylor Mounts (So., Post, Kailua, HI/Iolani School) with 13.6 points per game and Marcus Holmes with 12.1 points per game. Mounts is third in the NWC in free throw shooting (48 of 55, 87.3%) and is sixth in rebounding with 6.9 boards per game. Holmes ranks ninth in the conference in 3-point shooting (23 of 56, 41.1%).

* Willamette is averaging 80.8 points per game. Opponents are averaging 88.8 points per game against the Bearcats. Five of Willamette's losses have been by nine points or less, including four by seven points or less.

* After tonight's game Willamette does not play again until Friday, Jan. 22, when the Bearcats will host Pacific Lutheran University at Cone Field House. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m. (PST).



Men's Basketball

Willamette at George Fox
Friday, Jan. 15, 2010 at 5:45 p.m.

Taylor Mounts of Willamette ranks third in the NWC in free throw shooting and is sixth in rebounding.

Taylor Mounts of Willamette ranks third in the NWC in free throw shooting and is sixth in rebounding.