Boxers Grab Early Lead, Pull Away from Bearcats

Babcock-Krenk, Malley Hit double figures for Willamette

By Timothy Walsh, Assistant Athletics Communications Director

FOREST GROVE, ORE. -- Willamette University trailed just 36-34 at halftime, but Pacific University broke the game open midway through the second half, pulling away for an 80-60 victory in a Northwest Conference men's basketball game at the Stoller Center on Tuesday, Feb. 5.

Colin Wester poured in 25 points for Pacific, as the Boxers improved to 12-9, 6-6 in NWC play. Elliot Babcock-Krenk (Sr., Wing, Lake Oswego, OR/Lake Oswego HS/Humboldt State Univ.) scored 15 points and Terrell Malley (Sr., G, Portland, OR/Roosevelt HS) chipped in 13 for Willamette, which dropped to 7-14, 4-8 in the NWC.

Pacific began the game with high-pressure defense that flustered the Bearcats early, allowing the Boxers to open up an 11-4 lead.  But Alex Hansen (Jr., G, Reno, NV/Galena HS) connected on a floater and Babcock-Krenk nailed a 3-pointer from the wing to bring Willamette back within four.

Fueled by a pair of buckets from Wester, Pacific went on a 10-2 run to grab a 27-16 advantage with 7:43 remaining in the first half. Babcock-Krenk responded with a corner three to bring WU back within single digits, then Malley hit a layup and three of his own, closing the gap to just 27-24.

Another layup from Wester pushed the Boxers' lead back to 36-27 at the 3:39 mark, but WU closed out the period on a 7-0 run, capped by a free throw from Malley with 41 seconds left on the clock.

Babcock-Krenk was perfect from the field in the first half, connecting on 4-4 field goal attempts and 3-3 three pointers, but the Bearcats hurt themselves at the foul line, shooting just 3-10 (30%) from the charity stripe in the period.

After Oliver Hughes (Sr., Wing, Salt Lake City, UT/Judge Memorial HS) drained a corner three early in the second half to pull the WU within 38-37. A bit later, Babcock-Krenk continued his perfect shooting, nailing his fourth 3-pointer of the game to close Pacific's lead to 44-40. But turnovers on four straight Willamette possessions led to a thunderous dunk from Dustin Bowser, pushing Pacific's lead to 51-40 with 15:25 left.

With the Boxers leading 53-41, Hansen's back-to-back three pointers kept the Bearcats within striking distance, but Wester and Budweiser Hawkins hit back-to-back threes of their own, giving the Boxers a 63-49 lead with 11:58 remaining.

With 9:33 left to go, a layup from Trevor Bos (Jr., G, Lakewood, CA/St. John Bosco HS) closed the gap to 65-54, but Wester – who erupted for 19 points in the second half – hit consecutive three-pointers, and the Bearcats went ice-cold, not connecting on another field goal until Malley's layup at the 2:41 mark.

Willamette connected on 21 of 46 field goal attempts for the game (45.7%), but shot just 8 of 22 (36.4%) in the second half. The Boxers shot 51.7% for the game (30 of 58), including 64.3% (18 of 28) in the decisive second period. Pacific also edged the Bearcats in three-point shooting, hitting 50% from behind the arc (7 of 14) to Willamette's 47.4% (9 of 19).

The Boxers gained a decisive advantage at the foul line, hitting on 13 of 17 attempts (76.5%) to the Bearcats' 9 of 20 shooting (44.4%). Pacific earned 20 points off 18 Willamette turnovers, while the Bearcats scored just four points off 10 Boxer turnovers.

Willamette returns to Cone Field House for a key game against Pacific Lutheran University this Friday, Feb. 8. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m. (PST).

BOX SCORE

Pacific University 80
Willamette University 60 

Elliot Babcock-Krenk kept Willamette close early, connecting on his first five shots and his first four three-pointers.

Elliot Babcock-Krenk kept Willamette close early, connecting on his first five shots and his first four three-pointers.