Watts Scores 13 Points and Whicker Adds 12 in Loss to Undefeated UW-La Crosse

Jonathan Watts (So., W, San Diego, CA/Rancho Bernardo HS)
Jonathan Watts (So., W, San Diego, CA/Rancho Bernardo HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SALEM, Ore. -- Jonathan Watts (So., W, San Diego, CA/Rancho Bernardo HS) of Willamette University scored 13 points, and Cade Whicker (Fy., F, Fruit Heights, UT/Davis HS) added 12 points and hauled down six rebounds for the Bearcats, in an 89-60 loss to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse at Cone Field House on Friday, Dec. 20. UW - La Crosse, ranked #15 in the D3hoops.com Top 25 Poll, remained undefeated at 8-0 overall. Willamette fell to 1-7 on the season.

Willamette's losses have been to teams with a combined record of 50-20 (.714). Three opponents -- Buena Vista University (Iowa), Nebraska Wesleyan University, and UW-La Crosse -- have earned a 28-2 (.933) combined record. Buena Vista and Nebraska Wesleyan are both 10-1, with Buena Vista's only loss coming against NWU.

Against UW-La Crosse, Watts and Whicker were followed on the Bearcats' scoring chart by Ben Sutton (Jr., F, Seattle, WA/Ingraham HS), who contributed seven points. Sutton also matched Whicker with a team-high six boards. Daniel Plumer (Fy., PG, North Las Vegas, NV/Democracy Preparatory Academy) led all players on both teams with five steals.

Ethan Anderson and Seth Anderson each scored 16 points for UWL. Terek Nesheim added 14 points for the Eagles, while Wyatt Cook provided nine points and nine rebounds.

The teams were tied 2-2 after Sutton scored on a jumper for the Bearcats less than a minute into the game. A layup by Cook gave UW-La Crosse a 4-2 advantage, but Whicker put Willamette in front 5-4 with a 3-point basket at the 18:20 mark.

Zac Haese of UWL hit a 3-pointer 17 seconds later and put through another trifecta with 16:12 to go in the half, as the Eagles grabbed a 10-5 lead. Haese's 3-pointers started a 12-0 surge for UW-La Crosse. The Eagles led 16-5 with 13:18 left in the half.

Alec Barba (Jr., G, Dallas, OR/Central HS) ended the run by sinking a 3-pointer for Willamette with 12:59 on the clock, pulling the Bearcats within 16-8. When Joshua Stubbs (Sr./Jr., W, Eugene, OR/Churchill HS) scored with 12:19 to go, UWL owned an 18-10 edge.

The Eagles countered with a 16-0 run that included a 3-pointer from Ethan Anderson and concluded with a trio of 3-pointers by Henry Noone. UW-La Crosse was in front, 34-10, with 7:15 remaining in the half.

Justus Eaglesmith (Jr., G, Sparks, NV/Spanish Springs HS) scored next for WU on a 3-pointer with 6:53 left. Eaglesmith added a jumper and Watts supplied a basket, as Willamette cut the margin to 34-19 with 5:14 to play.

Later, WU got as close as 43-31 on a jumper by Watts with just under a minute to go in the half, but Seth Anderson hit two free throws at the 43-second mark and scored on a jumper 11 seconds later. The Eagles held a 47-31 lead at the break.

UW-La Crosse added baskets by Cook and Nesheim in the first minute of the second half to claim a 51-31 advantage. Whicker put through a layup for Willamette with 18:35 to play, but the Eagles scored seven consecutive points for a 58-33 margin with 15:10 remaining. The Bearcats reduced the deficit to 66-48 on a 3-pointer by Jack Boydell (Fy., F, Sonoma, CA/Sonoma Valley HS) with 9:12 left, but WU was unable to get closer.

The Eagles shot 54.2% for the game (32 of 59), including 12 of 24 (50.0%) from 3-point range. UWL attained a 38-33 rebounding edge and forced WU into 19 turnovers, while the Eagles lost the ball 17 times.

Willamette connected on 36.8% of its field goals (21 of 57), including 45.5% (10 of 22) in the first half. The Bearcats hit just 5 of 20 three-point shots (25.0%). WU sank 13 of 16 free throws (81.3%), while UW-La Crosse went 13 for 20 at the free throw line (65.0%).

The Bearcats will host #11-ranked Saint John's University (Minn.) on Saturday (Dec. 21).Game time at Cone Field House is scheduled for 2 p.m. (PST).