Puget Sound Escapes with Win at Willamette, 67-63

Loggers Break Tie after Controversial Call with 2.2 Seconds Left

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

SALEM, ORE. -- The University of Puget Sound escaped Cone Field House with a 67-63 win on Saturday, Feb. 15 after Willamette University rallied from a 10-point deficit with 6:46 left. Willamette held a two-point lead with just under a minute remaining and the game was tied with only a few seconds on the clock.

Both teams had 63 points after Erin Barber of UPS hit two free throws with 29.2 seconds left. Willamette held the ball for the final shot.

Avery Manu (Sr., W, Pocatello, ID/Highland HS) took a 6-foot jumper on the baseline with about three seconds to go, but the ball bounced off the rim. Brandon Luedtke (So., F, Meridian, ID/Mt. View HS) of Willamette grabbed the rebound and shot in one motion. The ball went through the basket, but Luedtke was called for a pushing foul on the play with 2.2 seconds left.

Matt Reid made both free throws for UPS at the other end of the court to give the Loggers a 65-63 lead. On the in-bounds pass, Jake Stevens (Fr., F, Eagle, ID/Eagle HS) sent the ball just past midcourt, where Alex Hansen grabbed it for Willamette near the sideline.

As Hansen was landing out of bounds, a turnover and timeout were simultaneously called by the officials. Eventually, the officials ruled that Willamette was unable to call timeout because Hansen was in the air.

Barber added two more free throws when he was fouled with 1.5 seconds left for the final 67-63 score. The game was played in front of a raucous Willamette crowd of 1,050 that featured students, faculty, staff and local fans attending Faculty and Staff Appreciation Night.

Puget Sound improved to 13-10 overall, 9-5 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette went to 3-19 overall, 1-12 in the NWC.

The Bearcats held the lead throughout the game's first six minutes, building a 6-0 advantage before Puget Sound got on the scoreboard with a 3-point basket by A.J. Maw. UPS eventually tied the game at 8-8 on a 3-pointer by James Osorio with 13:02 on the clock.

A 3-point basket from Bridger Harlington (So., Wing, Lake Tapps, WA/Auburn Riverside HS) and a layup by Avery Manu (Sr., Wing, Pocatello, ID/Highland HS) gave Willamette a 13-8 lead. The Loggers tied the game with five points of their own, and neither team led by more than three points until a 4-0 run gave UPS a 25-21 lead at the 4:25 mark.

WU cut the margin to 25-23 on a layup by Manu, but Puget Sound countered with a 6-0 run, ending with a pair of free throws by Maw with 1:23 to go. Kyle McNally (Jr., Post, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) put in a layup for the Bearcats with 49 seconds left and Keith Shattuck of UPS tacked on two free throws 16 seconds later, leaving the Loggers with a 33-25 lead at the break.

The Loggers scored on the first possession of the second half for a 10-point margin. Willamette scored the next five points, but UPS led 42-30 with 16:35 to go when a basket and foul shot by Dan Cheledinas completed a 7-0 run.

Seven unanswered points followed for Willamette, as the Bearcats again cut the lead to five points. Rich Vasquez (Jr., Post, Phoenix, AZ/Paradise Valley HS/Mesa CC) scored on a layup at the end of the run with 13:25 left.

UPS returned to a double-digit margin at 48-37 on a layup by Barber as the clock reached 11:13. The Loggers owned a 54-44 margin after Nick Holden sank a layup with 6:46 remaining.

Willamette started its comeback with a layup from Stevens at the 6:34 mark. The UPS lead dwindled 56-53 a bit later, when McNally converted two free throws with 3:35 on the clock.

Reid sank two free throws for the Loggers just three seconds later, but Hansen swished a 3-pointer on WU's next possession to reduce the margin to 58-56. Puget Sound secured a 61-58 lead before Hansen provided the Bearcats with another 3-pointer for a tie score with 1:40 left. McNally put Willamette in front 63-61 by hitting two free throws with 59 seconds remaining.

Barber's two free throws half a minute later tied the game, setting up the action-packed finish.

Willamette ended the game with six more baskets than the Loggers, but UPS was 27 of 33 at the free throw line (81.8%), while the Bearcats were 10 of 15 at the charity stripe. The Bearcats were called for 24 fouls, while Puget Sound was whistled for 12 fouls.

The WU defense limited Puget Sound to 33.3% shooting (18 of 54), including 4 for 15 on 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Willamette converted 24 of 58 field goals (41.4%), including a solid 56.0% in the second half (14 of 25). The Bearcats knocked down 5 of 18 three-point attempts. Each team grabbed 36 rebounds.

Rex Nelson topped Puget Sound with 14 points, but hit only 3 of 13 field goals. He was 8 for 11 at the free throw line. Holden provided 12 points and Barber chipped in 10 to go along with four assists. Nelson and Holden secured six rebounds apiece.

For WU, Hansen led the way with 16 points, four 3-pointers and eight boards. Luedtke finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Harlington supplied 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting. McNally, Manu and Stevens each tallied eight points. Luedtke, McNally and Vasquez each blocked two shots.

The Bearcats will play archrival Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore., on Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. (PST). WU and Linfield were set to play on Feb. 8, but the game was postponed due to heavy snow in the Willamette Valley.

BOX SCORE

University of Puget Sound 67
Willamette University 63

Post-game Interview

Photo Gallery (Photos by Naomi Stukey, Photographer for Willamette Athletics)

Alex Hansen shoots a 3-pointer in Saturday's game against Puget Sound. He scored 16 points and hauled down eight rebounds for the Bearcats.

Alex Hansen shoots a 3-pointer in Saturday's game against Puget Sound. He scored 16 points and hauled down eight rebounds for the Bearcats.