By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Cade Whicker (Fy., F, Fruit Heights, UT/Davis HS) scored 22 points and Daniel Plumer (Fy., PG, North Las Vegas, NV/Democracy Preparatory Academy) tacked on 19 points for Willamette University against a strong Whitman College men's basketball team on Saturday, Jan. 11, but the Blues placed five players in double figures to defeat the Bearcats, 121-79, at the Sherwood Center. The Blues hit an impressive 21 of 47 three-point shots (44.7%), including six 3-pointers each from Andrew Vickers and Trevor Osborne.
Whicker's 22 points tied his career high set in the season opener against Montclair State University (N.J.) on Nov. 9. Plumer supplied Willamette with double-digit scoring for the 11th time in 13 games. Whicker, who hit 8 of 13 field goals and was 4 of 7 on 3-pointers, reached double figures for the eighth time this season. Whicker also earned six rebounds and two assists, while Plumer contributed five boards and four assists. Ben Sutton (Jr., F, Seattle, WA/Ingraham HS) was held to five points by the Blues, but still registered seven rebounds and three assists.
Vickers of Whitman led all players with 27 points on Saturday. He was 7 of 12 from the field, including 6 of 9 from 3-point range. Vickers also produced seven rebounds and three assists. Osborne chipped in 23 points for the Blues, while sinking 6 of 13 three-point shots and going 5 for 5 at the free throw line. Also in double figures for the Blues were Nikola Trifunovic with 20 points, Robert Colton with 11 points and six boards, and Weston Crump with 10 points. Brian Warinner all players with eight rebounds.
Whitman improved to 9-4 on the season and remained undefeated in the NWC at 4-0. Willamette slipped to 1-12 overall, 0-4 in the NWC.
Each team connected on a 3-point shot in the first 34 seconds of the game, as Jaron Kirkley connected for Whitman and Justus Eaglesmith (Jr., G, Sparks NV/Spanish Springs HS) scored for Willamette. The Blues earned the next eight points for an 11-3 lead, but Willamette countered with a 6-0 run to reduce the margin to 11-9. WU's short burst started with a layup by Whicker and also included two free throws from Kenny Wright Jr. (Fy., PG, Dallas, TX/R.L. Turner HS) and a layup by Plumer.
The Blues added five points to go up 16-9, before the Bearcats used an 8-1 run to achieve a 17-17 tie with 12:27 left in the first half. Alec Barba (Jr., W, Dallas, OR/Central HS) completed Willamette's run with a 3-point basket. The teams were tied again at 22-22 with 11:06 on the clock following a layup by Sutton. Whitman recorded the next five points on a traditional three-point play by Colton and a layup by Darne Duckett for a 27-22 advantage, but Willamette eventually pulled within 29-27 on a layup by Plumer with 9:24 to go in the half.
Whitman put through the next 10 points to grab a 39-27 lead when Crump hit a 3-pointer at the 6:38 mark. Willamette answered with a 3-pointer by Plumer to reduce the margin to 39-30. The Blues closed the half with a 22-13 run, including nine points by Trifunovic and six points by Osborne. At the intermission, Whitman held a 61-43 lead.
Kirkley earned the first basket of the second half for the Blues, and Willamette scored the next two baskets on a 3-pointer from Whicker and layup by Plumer, as the Bearcats reduced the deficit to 63-48 with 18:00 remaining. The Blues tallied the next eight points for a 71-48 advantage with 16:50 to play. Jack Boydell (Fy., F, Sonoma, CA/Sonoma Valley HS) sank a 3-pointer for WU 33 seconds later. Willamette moved within 20 points two more times with 14:45 and 14:17 to go, but the Bearcats couldn't get closer.
For the game, Whitman's 21-of-47 shooting from 3-point range provided more than half of the Blues' scoring. Willamette connected on 13 of 33 long-range shots (36.4%). Whitman shot 45.2% overall (38 of 84), while Willamette was successful on 26 of 71 shots (36.4%).
The Bearcats sank 15 of 17 free throws for 88.2%, while Whitman made 24 of 35 free throws (68.6%). The Blues gained a 59-39 rebounding edge and committed just nine turnovers.
Willamette will host Pacific Lutheran University in a Northwest Conference game at Cone Field House on Friday, Jan. 17. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. (PST).