Willamette Rally Falls Short against California Lutheran, 64-59

Hansen Scores a Career-High 13 Points for Bearcats; Manu Adds 10 Points

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

THOUSAND OAKS, CALIF. -- California Lutheran University built a 12-point halftime advantage, but saw its lead reduced to a single point with 1:35 remaining before the Kingsmen scored six of the final eight points to defeat Willamette University, 64-59, at Gilbert Arena on Saturday, Dec. 21.

The Kingsmen upped their record to 8-1, while Willamette fell to 1-6. The Bearcats, who have played just one home game so far this season and defeated Corban University at a neutral site, fell to 0-5 on the road.

Alex Hansen (Sr., Wing, Reno, NV/Galena HS) scored a career-high 13 points and hit 3 of 6 three-pointers for Willamette. Avery Manu (Sr., Wing, Pocatello, ID/Highland HS) tacked on 10 points for the Bearcats, while grabbing five rebounds and providing two assists.

Arik Smith led California Lutheran with 17 points, including a key three-point play in the final minute. Smith also hauled down several rebounds late in the game on his way to seven boards overall. Corey Quintana achieved 15 points for the Kingsmen and led all players with 11 rebounds.

Willamette held a 5-3 lead following a 3-pointer by Hansen with 17:09 left in the first half. The Bearcats also led 7-5 following a layup by Brandon Luedtke (So., F, Meridian, ID/Mountain View HS) less than a minute later. California Lutheran responded by scoring the next five points to start a 10-2 run for a 15-9 advantage at the 13:53 mark.

The Bearcats scored the next three points, including two free throws by Kyle McNally (Jr., F, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) that cut the deficit to 15-12. CLU extended its lead to 20-12 and eventually claimed a 26-15 margin when Jeremy Sulker-Hall hit a jump shot with 6:57 remaining in the half.

WU answered with a 6-0 run. Manu completed the offensive surge with a layup and a foul shot with 3:36 on the clock.

California Lutheran took a 35-21 lead with a 9-0 run. The final five points of the run were recorded on a 3-pointer by Collin Knudsen with 2:00 left and a jumper by Quintana with 0:34 to go. Luedtke scored the final points of the half for Willamette with a jump shot that beat the buzzer.

A pair of free throws by Talanoa Smith (Jr., G, Pago Pago, American Samoa/Tafuna HS) and a free throw by Manu pulled WU within 35-26 in the first minute of the second half. The Kingsmen followed with an 11-3 run for a 46-29 lead. Coltrane Powdrill ended the run with a dunk at the 13:37 mark.

Joseph Jackson (Jr., G, Hillsboro, OR/Hillsboro HS) countered with a 3-pointer for Willamette 10 second later, but the Bearcats were unable to take a big bite out of the deficit until later in the second half.

CLU led 55-41 with 10:04 left on a jumper by Powdrill, before the Bearcats tallied seven unanswered points. The run by WU started with a layup by Manu, and included a free throw from Alex Brown (Jr., F, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS), a basket by McNally and a jumper from Luedtke with 6:48 remaining.

A bit later, Arik Smith made one of two free throws for CLU with 5:43 left for a 58-50 lead. The next seven points were scored by Willamette. Brown provided a successful jumper at 5:19 to start the run and McNally grabbed a rebound before scoring with 3:55 to go.

Neither team scored for more than two minutes, as WU missed two shots, and CLU missed a field goal, committed two turnovers and saw Powdrill fail on two free throws at the 1:38 mark.

Hansen completed Willamette's run with a 3-pointer three seconds later, as the Bearcats cut the lead to 58-57.

After Hansen's 3-point shot, the Kingsmen kept the ball for 54 seconds. Arik Smith grabbed two offensive rebounds during that time, and scored on a layup to complete the lengthy possession with 0:41 left. He was fouled on the shot and made the free throw for a 61-57 lead.

Arik Smith added two free throws with 37 seconds remaining, before WU pulled within 63-59 on two free throws by Hansen with 0:28 to go. Michael Palmer sank 1 of 2 free throws for CLU one second later. Willamette launched four field goals the rest of the way, but did not convert.

The Bearcats received scoring and rebounding support from several players. Hansen and Manu led the team in scoring, while Jackson contributed nine points and hit two 3-pointers. Luedtke chipped in eight points, seven rebounds and three steals. McNally finished with 10 rebounds and six points.

Following Smith and Quintana on the CLU scoring chart were Knudsen with nine points and Powdrill with eight. Powdrill also earned six rebounds.

Willamette shot 37.0% from the field (17 of 46), including 10 of 26 (38.5%) in the second half. The Bearcats were 5 of 12 on 3-pointers and went 20 for 30 at the free throw line. WU made 13 of 17 free throws in the final 20 minutes.

"I'm very proud of our guys' fight, consistency with our defense and their belief in each other," Willamette Head Coach Kip Ioane said. "We will use those traits to dig ourselves out of this early season hole.

"We have to be defined by the defense we played to allow our comeback from 17 down in the second half," Ioane added. "We are using this entire non-conference schedule to build that identity of a very sound defensive team."

WU has allowed an average of just 69.4 points per game. The Bearcats have held four opponents to fewer than 65 points.

California Lutheran finished at 40.7% on field goals (24 of 59), but made only 34.6% (9 of 26) in the second half. The Kingsmen hit 4 of 14 three-pointers and connected on 12 of 19 free throws (63.2%). CLU held a 40-34 rebounding edge and a 12-7 margin in steals, including five steals by Arik Smith.

The Bearcats will play their second home game of the season on Saturday, Dec. 28 against the University of California-Santa Cruz. Game time at Cone Field House is set for 7 p.m. (PST).

Willamette will host Concordia University (Ore.) on Monday, Dec. 30 at 3 p.m., before opening Northwest Conference play with home games on Jan. 3, Jan. 4, Jan. 7 and Jan. 10.

BOX SCORE

California Lutheran University 64
Willamette University 59

Avery Manu scored 10 points, grabbed five rebounds and earned two steals. He has achieved double-digit scoring in 6 of 7 games this season.

Avery Manu scored 10 points, grabbed five rebounds and earned two steals. He has achieved double-digit scoring in 6 of 7 games this season.