By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Whitman College surged out to a 22-2 lead against Willamette University, and the Bearcats were unable to recover, as the Blues won 99-70 at Cone Field House on Friday, Dec. 3, in the Northwest Conference opener for both teams. The Blues improved to 2-5 on the season, 1-0 in the NWC. Willamette fell to 2-4 overall, 0-1 in the NWC. Cedric Coward (Fy., F, Fresno, CA/Central HS) led the Bearcats with 19 points and seven rebounds to go along with four blocks, three assists, and a steal.
The Blues increased their early advantage to 41-11 at the end of a 12-0 run with 5:27 left in the first half. Willamette answered with a 19-4 run to cut the margin to 45-30 with 1:41 to go. The offensive surge by the Bearcats included a string of 11 unanswered points that featured a 3-pointer by Kenny Wright Jr. (Jr., PG, Dallas, TX/R.L. Turner HS) and two 3-point shots by Jonathan Watts (Sr., W, San Diego, CA/Rancho Bernardo HS). Whitman was in front 47-30 at halftime.
Weston Crump of Whitman led all players with 17 points at the break, while Nikola Trifunovic added 14 points for the Blues. Watts was the Bearcats' top scorer at halftime with 10 points.
Willamette continued to battle back at the start of the second half. The Blues scored first, but the Bearcats responded with a 9-0 run, ending on a jumper by Coward at the 17:43 mark to reduce Whitman's lead to 49-39.
The Bearcats were unable to get closer, as Whitman put together an 11-0 surge to increase the margin to 60-39 with 14:09 remaining. The final six points of the run were scored on 3-pointers by Grant Hunt and Walter Lum. Willamette followed with a 9-4 run that was completed with a 3-point basket by Ryder Hsiung (Fy., G, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) with 12:02 to go, cutting the margin to 64-48.
Crump of Whitman scored a game-high 25 points and hit 12 of 18 field goals. He also earned five rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Trifunovic supplied the Blues with 18 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Hunt and Xzavier Lino each tallied 11 points. Lino also contributed eight rebounds and two steals. Alex Pape produced 10 points and six assists.
Coward was one of three Bearcats in double figures. Watts finished with 16 points, including five 3-point baskets, and registered four rebounds and two steals. Daniel Plumer (Jr., PG, North Las Vegas, NV/Democracy Preparatory Academy) supplied 12 points, six boards, two steals, and a blocked shot.
The Bearcats shot 36.9% for the game (24 of 65), including 37.5% on 3-pointers (12 of 32). WU was 10 for 18 at the free throw line. The Blues converted 52.5% of their shots (40 of 76) and hit 11 of 25 three-point attempts (44.0%). Whitman sank 8 of 9 free throws and held a 56-27 rebounding edge. Willamette forced the Blues into 21 turnovers, while the Bearcats lost the ball 18 times.
Willamette will play Whitworth University at Cone Field House on Saturday, Dec. 4. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m. (PDT).