Pacific's 11 Three-Pointers Offset Luedtke's 25 Points, as Boxers Win, 77-71

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

FOREST GROVE, ORE. -- Brandon Luedtke (So., Meridian, ID/Mt. View HS) scored a game-high 25 points and connected on 10 of 13 field goals for Willamette University, but Pacific University hit 11 of 24 three-pointers to defeat the visiting Bearcats, 77-71, in a Northwest Conference game on Tuesday, Feb. 4.

Pacific led by just two points at halftime, but scored the first 10 points of the second half. Willamette was forced to battle from behind the rest of the way.

Daniel Zitani was the top scorer for the Boxers with 21 points on 5 of 12 field goals and 11 of 18 free throws. Riley Grandinetti added 16 points off the bench.

The first half was played at a relatively fast pace, with both teams shooting at least 50% from the field. Willamette connected on 17 of 27 field goals (63.0%) and Pacific made 15 of 30 shots (50.0%), including 7 of 16 three-pointers (43.8%).

Willamette forwards Luedtke and Alex Brown (Jr., Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) led all scorers at halftime with 10 points each. Avery Manu (Sr., Wing, Pocatello, ID/Highland HS) of WU had eight points at the break.

Zitani and Grandinetti each scored eight points in the first half for the Boxers. Coby Procter and Jordan Bailey added six points apiece.

The Bearcats built a 21-16 lead with 11:45 left in the opening period. Luedtke scored eight of the points, all on layups and close shots. Brown contributed a layup just seven seconds into the game and completed the early offensive surge with a 3-pointer.

Pacific countered with a 3-pointer by Grandinetti at the 11:30 mark. Willamette continued to hold a 21-19 advantage when the game reached its first media timeout 30 seconds later, but the Bearcats tallied the next five points.

Brown scored every point during the short run on a 16-foot pull-up jumper and a 3-pointer to the right of the key. The baskets gave Willamette a seven-point lead at 26-19.

A 3-point field goal by Landon Littlefield with 8:57 on the clock started a 7-0 surge by the Boxers, as Pacific forced a tie at 26-26. The game was tied three more times, with the third tie at 33-33, before Pacific tacked on six consecutive points on 3-pointers by Proctor and Batey.

Willamette closed the gap to 39-37 at halftime on a basket by Alex Hansen (Sr., W, Reno, NV/Galena HS) with 1:45 on the clock and a driving layup by Manu on a fast break 27 seconds later. Manu's basket was set up by a steal by Luedtke, who passed it forward to Manu after diving to the floor.

Pacific scored 10 unanswered points to open the second half. Batey started the run with a 3-point basket and later added a layup. After the run, the Boxers held a 49-37 advantage with 15:48 remaining.

That didn't keep the Bearcats from battling back. A driving layup by Manu on a fast break with 11:43 to go cut the margin to 52-45. Pacific responded with a 10-5 run, including five points each by Zitani and Grandinetti, for a 12-point lead at 62-50.

Undeterred, Willamette scored seven unanswered points to pull within 62-57 at the 4:47 mark. The run started with a basket by Luedtke, continued with four points from Hansen on a 17-foot jumper and two free throws, and ended with a free throw by Manu.

The Bearcats also pulled with five points at 64-59 on a short basket by Luedtke as the clock reached 4:05. After Zitani sank two free throws, Hansen hit a 3-pointer for Willamette with 3:26 left to cut the margin to 66-62.

Grandinetti added a 3-pointer for Pacific with 2:55 remaining, and Zitani blocked a shot by Jake Stevens (Fr., F, Eagle, ID/Eagle HS) near the basket with 2:21 to go. WU never got closer than five points the rest of the game.

Zitani finished with a double-double, as he hauled down 11 rebounds to go with his 21 points. Grandinetti hit 6 of 9 field goals, including 4 of 7 on 3-point tries. Batey scored 13 points and put through a trio of 3-pointers, while Mitch Wettig achieved 10 points. The Boxers shot 56.2% from the field (46.2%) and made 18 of 29 free throws (62.1%).

Luedtke was joined in double figures by three other Bearcats. Manu earned 14 points and scored on 6 of 10 field goals. Hansen dropped in 11 points and Brown tacked on 10.

The Bearcats shot 51.8% for the game (29 of 56), but connected on just 4 of 15 three-pointers (26.7%) and 9 of 18 free throws. Luedtke and Stevens led WU with six rebounds each.

Willamette will play again on Saturday, Feb. 8 at Linfield College. Game time in McMinnville, Ore., is set for 8 p.m. (PST).

BOX SCORE

Pacific University 77
Willamette University 71

Brandon Leudtke scored 25 points for Willamette. It was his second second game with more than 20 points.

Brandon Leudtke scored 25 points for Willamette. It was his second second game with more than 20 points.