Montgomery's 25 Points Lead Whitworth Past Willamette, 95-76

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Whitworth University opened the game with an 11-0 run and the Pirates hit 16 of 32 three-point baskets to defeat Willamette University, 95-76, in the Northwest Conference opener for both teams on Saturday, Jan. 2 at Cone Field House. Whitworth upped its overall record to 8-2, including 1-0 in the NWC. The Bearcats dropped to 3-7 overall, 0-1 in the NWC.

Nate Montgomery, a 6'8" senior post for the Pirates, led all scorers with 25 points and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds. He was 11 of 19 from the field. David Riley tacked on 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting, while Eric Beal contributed 17 points, six assists and three steals.

Cameron Mitchell (Sr., Post, Portland, OR/Grant HS/U. of Redlands), Marcus Holmes (Jr., G, Seattle, WA/Garfield HS) and Taylor Mounts (So., Post, Kailua, HI/Iolani School) supplied Willamette with 16 points apiece. Mitchell also led the Bearcats with 11 rebounds.

Despite the slow start, Willamette cut the lead to 19-16 with 11:15 left in the first half, on a layup by Terrell Malley (Fr., G, Portland, OR/Roosevelt HS) that completed a 16-8 run. The Bearcats trailed by six points, 45-39, at halftime.

Mounts put in a layup for the Bearcats to begin the second half, but Willamette committed turnovers on its next two possessions. Beal hit a 3-pointer following the second turnover, giving the Pirates a 48-41 lead.

The basket by Beal also started an 8-0 run that included five consecutive points for Montgomery, who scored on a 3-pointer and a layup. Whitworth led 53-41 with 17:43 to go.

Whitworth's advantage reached 60-44 with 14:46 on the clock, when Bo Gregg sank a 3-point shot. Scott Schoettgen (So., Wing, Columbia, CA/Sonora HS) answered with a trifecta for Willamette 18 seconds later, but Beal countered with another 3-pointer for the Pirates.

Later, the Bearcats trailed 68-52 with 10:25 remaining. Willamette battled back to get within 72-64 at the 6:28 mark, as a 12-4 run cut the lead in half. Mitchell recorded Willamette's first seven points during the run, before Holmes nailed a 3-pointer and Robbie Kunke (Jr., Wing, Clackamas, OR/Clackamas HS) completed the run with a pair of free throws.

Riley returned Whitworth to a double-digit lead by connecting on a 3-pointer at the 6:10 mark. He also hit a jumper with 5:34 to go, and made a 3-pointer with 4:54 on the clock. His 8-0 individual run provided the Pirates with an 80-64 lead. Willamette never got closer than 14 points the rest of the game.

The Pirates shot 49.3% from the field (35 of 71), including 52.9% (18 of 34) in the second half. Whitworth sank 8 of 19 three-pointers in the first half and made 8 of 13 in the final 20 minutes.

Willamette gained a big edge at the free throw line. Whitworth converted just 9 of 19 charity shots (47.4%), while the Bearcats sank 21 of 32 attempts (65.6%).

Led by Montgomery's 14 rebounds, the Pirates achieved a 44-33 rebounding edge. Jack Looftburrow added five rebounds for Whitworth. Mitchell's 11 boards led Willamette, while Kunke and Schoettgen each contributed five rebounds.

Schoettgen and Malley each finished with nine points for Willamette. Kunke achieved seven points, seven assists and one blocked shot.

The Bearcats will remain at home on Sunday, Jan. 3 to host NWC rival Whitman College. Game time is set for 3 p.m. (PDT). Whitman, 6-4 overall, opened NWC play with an 82-76 overtime loss at Lewis & Clark on Saturday.

Whitworth University 95
Willamette University 76
Taylor Mounts of Willamette scored 16 points, earned two steals and blocked one shot.

Taylor Mounts of Willamette scored 16 points, earned two steals and blocked one shot.