Puget Sound Survives Comeback by Willamette, 92-85

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

TACOMA, WASH. -- The University of Puget Sound surged out to a 20-point lead early in the game, but had to hold off Willamette University in the second half before the Loggers were able to defeat the Bearcats, 92-85, in a Northwest Conference game on Friday, Jan. 8. Willamette rallied within three points in the final six minutes, but couldn't catch the Loggers.

UPS moved to 5-8 on the season, 1-3 in the NWC. The Bearcats dropped to 3-9 overall, including 0-3 in the NWC.

Puget Sound scored eight of the game's first 10 points and owned a 17-5 advantage with 16:05 remaining in the opening half. The Loggers continued to increase their lead and held a 33-13 margin with 11:13 left before halftime.

The Bearcats scored on their next two possessions, on a tip-in by Cameron Mitchell (Sr., Post, Portland, OR/Grant HS/U. of Redlands) and a 3-pointer by Ryan Meehan (So., Wing, Beaverton, OR/Beaverton HS/MSU-Billings), to get with 15 points, 33-18, at the 10:27 mark.

After UPS added two baskets to its score, the Bearcats put together a 9-2 run. Robbie Kunke (Jr., Wing, Clackamas, OR/Clackamas HS) completed the run with a 3-pointer with 5:35 left in the half.

Puget Sound gradually increased the lead until it reached 50-31 on a jumper by Bryce Levin with 1:05 on the clock. Willamette closed the half with a 4-0 run, as Terrell Malley (Fr., G, Portland, OR/Roosevelt HS) and Bubba Lemon (Jr., Wing, McMinnville, OR/Tualatin HS/Linfield College) each hit a free throw and Mitchell scored inside with three seconds to go.

At halftime, Conner Gehring and Kaleb Shelton topped UPS with 10 points apiece. Mitchell was WU's top scorer in the first half with eight points. The Loggers shot 55.9% (19 of 34) in the opening 20 minutes, while the Bearcats connected at 48.1% (13 of 27). Willamette committed 12 turnovers in the first half, compared to nine for UPS.

The Bearcats went on a 7-2 run at the start of the second half to get within 10 points at 52-42. Taylor Mounts (So., Post, Kailua, HI/Iolani School) provided the final points of the run with a 3-point shot. UPS scored the next four points, but Willamette got back within 10 two more times, before cutting the lead to 61-53 on a layup by Meehan with 15:20 left.

Meehan also scored a minute later on a baseline jumper to pull WU within 61-55. Later, Meehan nailed a 3-pointer with 12:03 remaining to get WU within 65-61.

UPS extended the lead to 10 points, but The Bearcats used a 7-0 run to cut the advantage to 76-73 with 5:53 left in the game. Scott Schoettgen (So., Wing, Columbia, CA/Sonora HS) started the run with a 3-pointer from the left elbow. Meehan scored on a jumper to reduce the lead to five points, then added a steal and a layup to finish the run.

The Loggers led by seven points several times in the closing minutes, but couldn't get rid of the Bearcats. When Malley scored on a driving layup with 56.3 seconds left, the Bearcats were within 85-80.

Nadav Heyman sank two free throws for UPS with 51 seconds on the clock, but Marcus Holmes (Jr., G, Seattle, WA/Garfield HS) made a 3-point basket for WU with 42.3 seconds to go, cutting the lead to 87-83. Puget Sound connected on 5 of 8 free throws the rest of the way to secure the win.

Willamette played the final 17 minutes without Kunke, who twisted his ankle while driving to the basket. Kunke had five assists in the first half and finished with seven assists despite missing most of the second half.

Shelton led the Loggers with 21 points. He was 5 of 7 from the field and 11 of 16 at the line. Heyman and Gehring each provided 16 points and five board for UPS. David Aberg scored 10 points and Gabe Boroba grabbed eight rebounds.

Meehan paced the Bearcats with 20 point on 9 of 10 shooting. Mitchell and Holmes both scored 18 points, with Mitchell also contributing a game-high 12 rebounds. Mounts earned nine points and six rebounds.

Both teams shot well from the field. UPS finished at 56.4% (31 of 55), including 57.1% (12 of 21) over the final 20 minutes. Willamette connected on 34 of 69 field goals (49.3%) and made 9 of 18 three-pointers. UPS was just 1 of 13 from 3-point range (7.7%).

The Bearcats will return to action on Saturday, Jan. 9, with a home game against nearby rival Linfield College. Tip-off at Cone Field House is scheduled for 8 p.m. (PST).

BOX SCORE
University of Puget Sound 92
Willamette University 85
Cameron Mitchell scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against the Loggers.

Cameron Mitchell scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against the Loggers.