SALEM, Ore. – The Willamette University men's basketball team played even with visiting Piedmont University (GA) with a strong second half showing on Saturday, Dec. 11, at Cone Field House. The Bearcats matched the Lions with 40 points after the break but couldn't overcome the first half deficit, falling 83-66.
First-year Cedric Coward (F, Fresno, CA/Central HS) had another monster game, scoring a team-high 22 points and recording a double-double with 13 rebounds. He added six blocked shots, all in the second half, handing out five assists while going 5-for-6 from the free throw line.
Willamette took an early lead before a big run put the Lions in control at the midpoint of the first half. Piedmont's Jordan Foote hit 6-of-8 shots in the first half, leading both teams with 14 points while handing out four assists.
The Lions overcame a slow start, holding the Bearcats to just three points over a six-minute stretch to pull in front, 31-10, on a Foote three-pointer at the 10:17 mark. Willamette answered to cut the margin to 33-17 before Piedmont closed out the half with a 10-6 run to take a 43-26 lead into halftime.
Coward opened the second half with a three-pointer and the teams traded baskets in the opening minutes after the break. The Lions were able to open the gap to 63-38 with 12:35 remaining in the game before the Bearcats cut the lead down to 19 and kept pace with the visitors for the remainder of the contest.
Coward gave Willamette some momentum with a beautiful two-hand jam and tallied three consecutive blocked shots as the Bearcats finished with a strong run of their own, cutting the deficit to 15 in the final minute.
In addition to Coward's 22-point effort, Jack Boydell (Jr., F, Sonoma, CA/Sonoma Valley HS) reached double-figures with 14 points, knocking down four three-pointers on the afternoon. Kenny Wright Jr. (So., PG, Dallas, Texas/R.L. Turner HS) chipped in with eight points while Daniel Plumer (Jr., G, North Las Vegas, NV/Democracy Preparatory Academy) finished with seven points, six rebounds, five steals and three assists.
Foote led all scorers with 27 points, adding 10 rebounds and six assists as Piedmont improved to 5-2 on the season. The Bearcats slipped to 3-6 overall. Willamette returns to action at the end of the month, hosting Wisconsin-Stevens Point on Tuesday, Dec. 28 at 2 p.m. and Nebraska-Wesleyan University at 5 p.m. on Dec. 30.