Pacific Wins Defensive Battle with Bearcats, 56-48

Zitani Leads Boxers with 25 Points; Brown Tops Bearcats with 14 Points

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

SALEM, ORE. -- During a defensive game in which both teams shot less than 40%, Daniel Zitani from Pacific University managed to score 25 points to lead the Boxers to a 56-48 victory over Willamette University at Cone Field House on Tuesday, Jan. 7. Zitani hit 10 of 18 field goals, including one 3-pointer, and made 4 of 5 free throws.

Pacific moved its record to 9-3, including 2-1 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette dropped to 2-10 on the season, 0-3 in the NWC.

Both teams struggled immensely on offense in the first half. With 7:45 on the clock, Pacific held a 12-10 lead. The Boxers were 6 of 23 from the field and Willamette was 4 of 16 for a combined 10 of 39 (25.6%).

The Boxers were in front a 21-19 at halftime despite shooting just 26.5% (9 of 34), including 0 for 9 on 3-pointers. Willamette ended the half at 34.8% on field goals (8 of 23), but went 3 for 6 on 3-point shots. Zitani led all players with 11 points entering the second half.

During the final 20 minutes, Pacific connected on 50.0% of its shots (12 of 24), while the Bearcats improved to 44.0% (11 of 25). For the game, Willamette shot 39.6% (19 of 48) and went 4 for 10 on 3-pointers, with Pacific finishing at 36.2% (21 of 58), including 2 for 16 from behind the arc.

Neither team led by more than four points until the Boxers went on a 9-2 run in the second half to turn a 27-27 tie with 15:37 remaining into a 36-29 lead for Pacific with 13:00 left.

The run started with a jumper by Coby Proctor and a 3-point play on a basket and foul shot by Mitch Wettig. After Alex Brown (Jr., F, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) hit two free throws for Willamette, Zitani completed the run with a layup and a jump shot.

Willamette got as close as 47-44 on a basket and foul shot by Avery Manu (Sr., Wing, Pocatello, ID/Highland HS) with 1:54 remaining, but Jordan Batey hit a 3-point shot for Pacific with 1:25 left and only six seconds on the shot clock.

WU got as close as four points at 50-46 on a jump shot by Brown with 58 seconds to go, but Budweiser Hawkins added to Pacific's lead with two free throws at the 40-second mark and two more with 20 seconds left.

Zitani was joined in double figures by Hawkins, who scored 10 points for the Boxers. Wettig added eight points.

Brown paced Willamette with 14 points on 5 of 9 field goals and 4 for 4 free throws. Talanoa Smith (Jr., G, Pago Pago, American Samoa/Tafuna HS) provided WU with 10 points, as he converted 4 of 4 shots from the field, including a 3-pointer, while going 1 for 1 at the line.

Kyle McNally (Jr., F, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) scored just four points, but contributed five rebounds, while dishing out two assists, blocking three shots and recording two steals. Manu and Bridger Harlington (So., Wing, Lake Tapps, WA/Auburn Riverside HS) each scored five points for Willamette.

The Bearcats led in most of the statistical categories including a 34-33 rebounding edge, but committed 14 turnovers, while Pacific lost the ball just five times. Pacific ended the game with a 16-6 advantage in points off turnovers.

Willamette will return to action on Friday, Jan. 10, when the Bearcats are scheduled to host Linfield College. Game time for the match-up of archrivals is set for 8 p.m. (PST).

BOX SCORE

Pacific University 56
Willamette University 48

Post-game Interviews

Talanoa Smith went 4 for 4 from the field and hit his only free throw attempt to score 10 points for the Bearcats.

Talanoa Smith went 4 for 4 from the field and hit his only free throw attempt to score 10 points for the Bearcats.