Pacific Lutheran Stops Willamette's Rally, 96-90

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Pacific Lutheran University held an 11-point lead with 7:48 remaining, but had to hold off a rally by Willamette University before defeating the Bearcats, 96-90, in a Northwest Conference men's basketball game at Cone Field House on Friday, Jan. 22.

Pacific Lutheran improved to 7-7 overall, 5-2 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette fell to 3-13 overall, 0-7 in the NWC.

Cameron Mitchell (Sr., Post, Portland, OR/Grant HS/Univ. of Redlands) of Willamette went over the 1,000-point mark in his three seasons with the 'Cats when he scored WU's final basket with five seconds left. He earned 24 points on the night and also led the Bearcats with 16 rebounds.

Mitchell has scored 1,001 points since transferring to Willamette for the 2007-08 season. He has achieved 1,143 points during his overall college career, including his freshman season at the University of Redlands.

Kyle MacTaggart of Pacific Lutheran led all scorers with 31 points. He also grabbed nine rebounds.

PLU held a 77-66 advantage before WU went on an 8-0 run to cut the lead to three points. Taylor Mounts (So., Post, Kailua, HI/Iolani School) started the run with a layup at the 6:56 mark. Ryan Meehan (So., Wing, Beaverton, OR/Beaverton HS/MSU-Billings) added another layup with 6:22 to go.

The run continued after the Lutes missed a 3-pointer, as WU pulled within 77-72 on a layup by Mitchell with 5:53 left. Meehan completed the offensive surge for the Bearcats on a layup with 4:12 remaining.

James Conti of PLU hit a pair of free throws with 3:55 left to increase the Lutes' lead to 79-74. Willamette pulled within three points three more times, including 84-81 following a 3-pointer by Meehan with 2:00 left.

The Lutes held an 85-81 lead after MacTaggart hit a free throw at the 1:34 mark. MacTaggart missed the second free throw, but the ball went off several hands and he grabbed his own rebound. Tony Polis sank a 3-pointer for PLU with 1:06 remaining to advance the lead to 88-81.

WU eventually cut the margin to 90-86 when Meehan was fouled on a 3-point shot and hit all three free throws with 24 seconds to go. Curtis Trondsen clinched the game for the Lutes with two free throws one second later.

There were four ties and two lead changes in the first half. Willamette was in front, 12-8, with 15:07 on the clock. The Bearcats also owned a 19-17 advantage following two free throws by Bubba Lemon (Jr., Wing, McMinville, OR/Tualatin HS/Linfield College) at the 12:20 mark.

PLU tallied the next five six points, but Terrell Malley (Fr., G, Portland, OR/Roosevelt HS) connected on a 3-pointer for Willamette to pull the Bearcats within 23-22 with 11:12 left in the half. The Lutes answered with a 12-2 run, included seven points by Trondsen, as PLU claimed a 35-24 lead.

The Lutes were in front, 48-44, at halftime. MacTaggart, who achieved just seven points in the first half, scored 16 of PLU's first 18 points in the second half, including two 3-pointers. Mounts of WU put in eight of the Bearcats' 14 points over the same time span. The Lutes led 66-58 with 13:40 remaining.

For the game, Willamette shot 55.6% (35 of 63) from the field and held PLU to 47.9% shooting (35 of 73). In the second half, WU achieved an even larger edge in field goal shooting, as the 'Cats hit 61.3% (19 of 31), compared to 45.9% (17 of 37) for the Lutes.

Pacific Lutheran gained an advantage on 3-pointers, going 12 of 26 (46.2%), while Willamette finished 8 of 24 (33.3%).

The Lutes also scored two more points at the charity stripe, going 14 of 20, including 8 of 11 in the second half. Willamette sank 12 of 15 three throws, with three makes on just five attempts in the final 20 minutes.

Mitchell was followed in double figures by Meehan, who finished with 22 points for the Bearcats. Meehan was 8 of 9 on field goals, hit all three of his 3-point attempts and went 3 for 3 at the line.

Also scoring in double figures for Willamette were Mounts with 17 points and Malley with 15 points. Mounts and Mitchell each blocked two PLU shots.

MacTaggart's 31 points led four Lutes with double-digit points. Other top scorers for PLU were Conti with 16, Trondsen with 13 and Polis with 11. The Lutes earned a 36-33 rebounding edge and made just 12 turnovers, while forcing 15 by Willamette.

The Bearcats will travel to Pacific University on Saturday, Jan. 23 to take on the Boxers in another NWC game. Pacific also seeks its first NWC win of the season. The Boxers fell to the University of Puget Sound, 77-69, on Friday to fall to 4-12 overall, 0-7 in the NWC.

Willamette accepted donations for earthquake relief in Haiti during Friday's game through the Hoopsters for Haiti fundraiser organized by players Cameron Mitchell and Bubba Lemon. A percentage of ticket sales, along with funds from a halftime promotion and other donations, will be submitted to the relief effort through WU's office of Community Service Learning. The amount raised on Friday was not immediately available.

Pacific Lutheran University 96
Willamette University 90
Senior post Cameron Mitchell has scored 1,001 points in three years at Willamette and has earned 1,143 points overall.

Senior post Cameron Mitchell has scored 1,001 points in three years at Willamette and has earned 1,143 points overall.

Ryan Meehan hit 8 of 9 field goals on his way to scoring 22 points for the Besarcats.

Ryan Meehan hit 8 of 9 field goals on his way to scoring 22 points for the Besarcats.