Concordia Holds on to Defeat Bearcats, 86-83

Willamette Leads at Halftime; Brown Finishes with 18 Points

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Concordia University (Ore.) rallied from a 45-39 halftime deficit and held a seven-point lead with 1:29 remaining in the game, before holding on for an 86-83 victory over Willamette University on Monday, December 30 at Cone Field House.

The Cavaliers, who compete in the Cascade Collegiate Conference and the NAIA, upped their record to 10-4 on the season. Willamette, which plays in the Northwest Conference and NCAA Division III, fell to 2-7 overall.

Alex Brown (Jr., F, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) scored 18 points to top Willamette's scoring chart. He was 8 of 11 from the field Avery Manu (Sr., Wing, Pocatello, ID/Highland HS) added 16 points.

Brandon Luedtke (So., F, Meridian, ID/Mountain View HS) contributed a double-double for WU with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Alex Hansen (Sr., Wing, Reno, NV/Galena HS) added nine points on a trio of 3-point shots.

Concordia placed four players in double figures, led by Willy Ligon, who scored a game-high 25 points. Tyler Velasquez chipped in 17 points, while Kory Kirwan earned 15 points and grabbed seven boards. Esvan Middleton tallied 11 points to go with 11 rebounds.

The Bearcats moved out to a 6-2 advantage, but the game was tied five times in a bit more than the first eight minutes of play.

Willamette broke an 18-18 tie with a pair of free throws by Luedtke and went on to lead 27-23 following a 3-pointer by Hansen at the 8:36 mark. The Cavaliers forced the sixth tie of the game at 27-27 on a jumper by Ligon.

A layup by Brown with 7:17 on the clock moved WU in front 29-27. The Bearcats held the lead for the rest of the first half.

WU owned a 50-43 lead following a 3-point shot from Hansen early in the second half and remained in front until Concordia tied the score 59-59 with 10:54 remaining. Each team added three more points before Concordia surged in front, 68-62, with a 6-0 run.

Willamette trailed by seven points on four occasions the rest of the way, ending with an 80-73 score after Kirwan hit 1 of 2 free throws for the Cavaliers with 1:29 to go.

Manu scored on a layup with 1:13 left, as the Bearcats cut the lead to five points. After Anthony Holton of CU sank one free and missed the second with 1:04 on the clock, Manu added another layup with 49 seconds remaining to cut the margin to 81-77.

Ligon put in two free throws for Concordia five seconds later. Talanoa Smith (Jr., G, Pago Pago, American Samoa/Tafuna HS) drove to the hoop for Willamette and scored on a layup with 33 seconds left.

Kirwan made 1 of 2 free throws with 26 seconds remaining for CU, and Brown hit 1 of 2 free throws for Willamette at the 24-second mark, leaving the Cavaliers in front, 84-80.

Marquis Matthews grabbed the rebound of Brown's second shot and sent a quick pass to Velasquez at midcourt. Velasquez drove toward the basket, but Jared Baumgartner (Fr., Wing, Albany, OR/Crescent Valley HS) raced to get back on defense, and fouled him near the free throw line.

Velasquez missed both free throws and Luedtke rebounded the ball for Willamette. Hayden Russell (Fr., G, Woodland CA/Da Vinci HS) swished a 3-pointer for the Bearcats with 10 seconds to go, cutting CU's lead to a single point, 84-83.

Ligon added two free throws for the Cavaliers with four second left. Willamette was unable to set up a final shot.

Willamette shot 56.6% (30 of 53) during the game and hit 6 of 17 three-pointers (35.3%). Concordia connected on 50.9% of its shots (29 of 57), but made just 4 of 16 three-point attempts. The Cavaliers gained an edge in points at the free throw line, where they sank 24 of 37 shots (64.9%), while WU finished 17 for 25 (68.0%).

Concordia forced Willamette into 19 turnovers, as the Cavaliers earned nine steals. WU caused Concordia to lose the ball 14 times, with the Bearcats recording six steals.

The start of Northwest Conference play is next for Willamette. The Bearcats will play at home against Whitman College on Friday, Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. (PST), before hosting Whitworth University on Saturday, Jan. 4 at 6 p.m. (PST).

BOX SCORE

Concordia University 86
Willamette University 83

Post-game Interviews

Alex Brown was Willamette's top scorer against the Cavaliers. He scored 18 points and was 8 of 11 on field goals.

Alex Brown was Willamette's top scorer against the Cavaliers. He scored 18 points and was 8 of 11 on field goals.