By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Cade Whicker (Fy., F, Fruit Heights, UT/Davis HS) scored a game-high 21 points, and Ben Sutton (Jr., F, Seattle, WA/Ingraham HS) added a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, as Willamette University held off a challenge by the University of La Verne to defeat the Leopards on Saturday, Nov. 23 at Cone Field House. Willamette improved to 1-2 on the season. La Verne fell to 0-4 overall.
Willamette held a 43-32 lead at halftime, and the Bearcats were in front 52-37 after a fast-break basket by Daniel Plumer (Fy., PG, North Las Vegas, NV/Democracy Preparatory Academy) with 17:16 left in the game. The Leopards reduced the margin to 54-46 with 14:19 to go on a 3-pointer by Tevin McClain. Willamette led 60-48 just over two minutes later, but La Verne scored the next 10 points to get as close as 60-58 following two free throws by John Malone with 8:38 to play.
The Bearcats responded with a 12-2 run that opened with a layup by Whicker and ended with a jumper by Whicker for a 72-60 lead with 5:20 left. La Verne pulled within single digits at 76-67 on a 3-pointer from Sinai Enoch with 3:32 remaining, but a layup by Whicker 15 seconds later and six consecutive points by Plumer expanded Willamette's margin to 84-67 with 45 seconds on the clock.
Whicker scored his 21 points by shooting 9 of 14 from the field, including 3 of 5 on 3-point attempts. He also contributed eight rebounds, three assists, a blocked shot and a steal. Sutton, in addition to scoring 19 points and hauling down 10 rebounds, finished a strong game with four assists two blocked shots and three steals. He was 8 of 15 on field goals and 3 for 4 at the free throw line.
Plumer also reached double figures for the Bearcats, as he scored 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting. He grabbed five boards and earned two assists. Alec Barba (Jr., G, Dallas, OR/Central HS) sank 3 of 4 three-point shots to finish with nine points. Willamette shot 57.4% for the game (35 of 61), including 9 of 17 from 3-point range (52.9%). WU was 5 for 7 at the free throw line. The Bearcats claimed a 39-29 rebounding margin.
"I thought our bench was huge this afternoon. Micah Fleming (Jr./So., PG, Orland, CA/Orland HS), Alex Barba and Dylan Streett (Fr., G, Santa Barbara, CA/Bishop Diego HS) kept our lead in the first half as we dealt with foul trouble. Ben Sutton was a force down low, and I thought Daniel Plumer and Cade Whicker finished the game for us."
— Willamette Head Coach Kip Ioane
La Verne's top scorer was McClain with 14 points. He was 5 of 7 on field goals and 3 of 5 on pointers. Tyler Ridley produced 13 points for the Leopards, while Segun Oyeku registered 10 points. Malone led ULV with six rebounds.
The Bearcats limited the Leopards to 37.9% shooting (22 of 58). La Verne was 7 of 22 on 3-point shots (31.8%) and hit 19 of 30 free throws (63.3%).
Willamette surged out to a 12-4 lead in the first 3:35 of the game. Whicker tallied the first seven points on a layup, a jumper and a 3-pointer, before Justus Eaglesmith (Jr., G, Sparks NV/Spanish Springs HS) tacked on another 3-pointer and Plumer sank two free throws. The Bearcats owned a 15-6 margin after Barba connected on a 3-pointer with 14:52 remaining in the half.
The Leapards pulled within 15-10 on two layups by Seth Shaw, but Willamette eventually led 20-10 on a 3-pointer by Barba with 12:25 left. WU also achieved leads of 25-15 and 27-17 after jumpers by Eaglesmith and Sutton, respectively, before grabbing a 33-22 edge on a layup from Will Huntington (Jr., P, Oakland, CA/Bishop O'Dowd HS) at the 5:30 mark.
A bit later, the Bearcats led by 14 points at 38-24 on a 3-pointer by Barba and at 41-27 following a 3-pointer by Streett. La Verne reduced the margin to 11 points at the break.
Willamette will host Concordia University (Texas) at Cone Field House on Sunday, Nov. 24. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. (PST).