Bearcats Finish Strong, Down Boxers 80-72 for First NWC Win

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

FOREST, GROVE, ORE. -- Willamette University went on a 17-7 run at the end of the game, as the Bearcats defeated Pacific University, 80-72, on Saturday, Jan. 23 at the Pacific Athletic Center. The victory was Willamette's first win in Northwest Conference action this year. Pacific remained winless in NWC play.

The Bearcats upped their season record to 4-13, and improved to 1-7 in the conference. Pacific fell to 4-13 overall, 0-8 in the NWC.

Willamette placed six players in double figures. Terrell Malley (Fr., G, Portland, OR/Roosevelt HS) led the way with 17 points.

Four Bearcats registered 13 points apiece: Cameron Mitchell (Sr., Post, Portland, OR/Grant HS/Univ. of Redlands), Marcus Holmes (Jr., G, Seattle, WA/Garfield HS), Robbie Kunke (Jr., Wing, Clackamas, OR/Clackamas HS) and Ryan Meehan (So., Wing, Beaverton, OR/Beaverton HS/MSU-Billings). Taylor Mounts (So., Post, Kailua, HI/Iolani School) tacked on 11 points for WU.

Pacific ended the game with three players in double digits. Adam McElwee tallied 20 points, while Ross Bartlett contributed 17 points. LeMar Anglin hit 6 of 9 field goals on his way to scoring 14 points.

The Bearcats trailed 65-63 with 3:59 remaining, before Willamette took control. WU took the lead on a 3-point basket by Kunke at the 3:43 mark and never trailed again. Kunke's trifecta started a 9-0 run that gave the 'Cats a 72-65 advantage with 2:22 left in the game.

WU secured the win by hitting eight of eight free throws in the final 1:04. The Bearcats were 22 of 26 overall (84.6%) at the line.

Pacific was held to just 32.3% field goal shooting (21 of 65) and 6 of 20 three-pointers (30.0%). Willamette connected on 40.0% of its shots from the field (24 of 60) and made an impressive 10 of 18 three-pointers (55.6%).

The Boxers kept pace with Willamette's free throw success, as Pacific converted 24 of 29 charity shots (82.8%). Pacific also achieved a 47-37 rebounding margin, led by 13 boards from Ross Bartlett. Mitchell led Willamette with 16 boards.

During the first half, the teams were tied five times and there were five lead changes. Willamette was in front for nearly all of the first 13 minutes, leading by as many as five points at 13-8 and 18-13.

Pacific went on a 17-6 run to claim a 30-24 lead, but needed a pair of free throws by A.J. Gaulton with four seconds on the clock to leave the court with a 35-33 halftime advantage. LeMar scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half.

The game remained close for most of the second half. Even so, Willamette scored six consecutive points to lead 60-53 with 8:33 left, and held Pacific scoreless from the 11:48 mark until 8:13 to go. The Boxers responded with a 12-3 offensive surge to take a short-lived lead before Kunke's key 3-pointer put WU in front for good.

Willamette will play its next game on Friday, Jan. 29 in Spokane, Wash., against Whitworth University. The Northwest Conference game is set for 8 p.m. (PST).

BOX SCORE
Willamette University 80
Pacific University 72
Robbie Kunke sank a 3-pointer with 3:43 remaining to start a decisive 17-7 run to end the game.

Robbie Kunke sank a 3-pointer with 3:43 remaining to start a decisive 17-7 run to end the game.