Strong Opening to Second Half Sends Whitworth Past Willamette, 64-53

Pirates Score 25 Consecutive Points to Overcome 10-Point Deficit

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Whitworth University went on a 25-0 run early in the second half and Willamette University was unable to recover, as the Pirates defeated the Bearcats 64-53 at Cone Field House on Saturday, Jan. 4. Willamette led 31-23 at halftime and took a 10-point lead with the first basket of the second half, but went the next 9:15 without scoring.

The win upped Whitworth's record to 8-3 overall, as the Pirates moved to 2-0 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette fell to 2-9 on the season, 0-2 in the NWC.

Colton McCargar paced four Pirates in double figures. He scored a game-high 18 points and made 6 of 13 field goals, while hitting 4 of 7 three-point shots. He also grabbed seven rebounds and earned two steals.

Adam Wilks added 13 points and five rebounds for Whitworth. Dustin McConnell chipped in 11 points, five assists and two steals, while George Valle achieved 10 points and led the Pirates with nine rebounds. Whitworth ended the game with a 41-27 rebounding edge, including 21-9 in the second half.

Alex Hansen (Sr., Wing, Reno, NV/Galena HS) was the lone Bearcat to reach double digits, as he scored 10 points to go along with three steals. Avery Manu (Sr., Wing, Pocatello, ID/Highland HS) contributed nine points and a team-high seven boards. 

Willamette played very well in the first half, as the Bearcats held Whitworth to 7-for-28 (25.0%) shooting and just 2 of 9 three-pointers. The Bearcats also forced the Pirates into seven turnovers, while Willamette lost the ball just four times. Led by Manu's three baskets on five attempts, the Bearcats shot 46.4% during the half (13 of 28).

The solid effort, especially on defense, enabled Willamette to hold the lead for nearly all of the first 20 minutes. A free throw by Manu and baskets by Hansen and Brandon Luedtke (So., F, Meridian, ID/Mt. View HS) created a 5-0 lead. The next six points went to the Pirates, as they took their only lead of the half at 6-5.

Willamette recorded eight unanswered points for a 13-6 lead with 13:55 left in the half. Wilks scored the ensuing basket for Whitworth, but the Bearcats tacked on a 3-pointer by Hansen and a layup from Luedtke to secure an 18-8 advantage.

The Bearcats led by as many as 12 points at 31-19 following a jumper by Alex Brown (Jr., F, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) late in the half, but settled for an eight-point lead after Wilks and McConnell scored on layups for Whitworth in the final two minutes.

Kyle McNally (Jr., Post, Salem, OR/Sprague HS), who missed most of the half after being called for two fouls in the first 2:25, scored on a jumper 27 seconds into the second half to give Willamette a 33-23 lead. Whitworth's decisive 25-0 run followed, as the Bearcats failed to score again until Manu cashed in a 3-pointer with 10:18 remaining.

Whitworth began the run with a layup by McConnell, two free throws by McCargar and a layup by Wilks in a 1:15 span that ended at the 16:44 mark with the lead reduced to four points. The Pirates tied the scored at 33-33 on a layup by Valle with 14:36 left.

Over the next four minutes, two 3-pointers by McCargar and one 3-pointer by Kenny Love helped Whitworth score the final 15 points of the run. When Love made a pair of free throws with 10:36 to complete the run, the Pirates held a 48-33 advantage.

Including Manu's 3-pointer that ended Willamette's scoring drought, each team scored 11 points during the next seven-a-half minutes. As a result, Whitworth led 59-44 before the Bearcats ended the game with a 9-5 run.

Whitworth shot 61.9% in the second half (13 of 21), while Willamette hit 26.9% from the field (7 of 26). The Pirates attained a 41-27 rebounding margin, but Willamette forced 18 turnovers. The Bearcats registered 12 steals and committed 13 turnovers.

Willamette will play Pacific University at Cone Field House on Tuesday, Jan. 4. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m. (PST) following the Willamette vs. Pacific women's basketball game.

BOX SCORE

Whitworth University 64
Willamette University 53

Post-game Interview

Photo gallery (Photos by Naomi Stukey, photographer for Willamette Athletics)

Alex Hansen topped Willamette with 10 points. He has scored in double digits in four of the last five games for the Bearcats.

Alex Hansen topped Willamette with 10 points. He has scored in double digits in four of the last five games for the Bearcats.