By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications, (503) 370-6110
TACOMA, Wash. -- Jonathan Watts (Sr., W, San Diego, CA/Rancho Bernardo HS) scored a career-high 34 points, Cedric Coward (Fy., F, Fresno, CA/Central HS) earned a triple-double, and Willamette University shot 59.7% from the field, as the Bearcats pulled away from the University of Puget Sound, 103-86, in a Northwest Conference men's basketball game at Memorial Fieldhouse on Friday, Jan. 7. Watts hit 12 of 16 field goals, including 6 of 7 three-point shots. Coward scored 12 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and provided 11 assists, while blocking four shots and recording two steals.
With the win, the Bearcats improved to 4-7 on the season, 1-2 in the NWC. The Loggers dropped to 6-6 overall, 1-1 in the NWC.
Watts' previous career-high for scoring was 24 points against Pacific University on Feb. 5, 2019. Earlier this season, he scored 23 points against Denison University (Ohio) on Nov. 21 and 20 points at Warner Pacific University on Dec. 10.
"This was a huge team win for us," Willamette Head Men's Basketball Coach Kip Ioane said. "Every guy we called on tonight gave us a positive of some kind. Obviously, Watts was phenomenal with 34 points and Cedric's triple-double is unbelievable as well, but I also want to give Jack Boydell (Jr., F, Sonoma, CA/Sonoma Valley HS) credit for his defensive leadership tonight."
Boydell scored 21 points for Willamette while sinking 9 of 15 shots, including a trio of 3-pointers. Josiah Frank (Fy., G, Turlock, CA/John H. Pitman HS) contributed 10 points, while Daniel Plumer (Jr., PG, North Las Vegas, NV/Democracy Preparatory Academy) scored eight. Watts and Boydell tied for the team lead with three assists.
The Loggers placed five players in double figures, led by Will Mathews and Paul Johnson with 15 points apiece. Cal Hansen and Taj Phillips both scored 11 points, while Mussie Teclemariam added 10. Mathews and Johnson each sank three 3-pointers. The Loggers gained a 38-28 rebounding edge. Phillips topped Puget Sound with six rebounds and also registered six assists and two steals.
Willamette led 8-2 after Ryder Hsiung (Fy., G, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) put through a 3-pointer with 18:11 left in the first half. A bit later, WU owned a 16-10 advantage following a layup by Boydell. Puget Sound answered with an 8-0 run to grab an 18-16 lead on a 3-pointer by Phillips.
The Bearcats trailed 25-23 at the 9:44 mark, but responded with a 9-0 surge for a 32-25 lead. The run began with a 3-pointer by Terry Sherman (Fy., Lake Charles, LA/St. Louis Catholic HS) and ended with back-to-back 3-pointers by Frank. WU led 47-39 with 3:00 remaining in the half on a layup by Meelad Doroodchi (So., F, Mooresville, NC/Pine Lake Preparatory).
Puget Sound went on a 12-2 run to take a 51-49 lead on a 3-pointer by Mathews with 49 seconds on the clock. Willamette tied the game on a layup by Coward with 10 seconds to go, but Johnson hit a 3-pointer for the Loggers with four seconds left to give Puget Sound a 54-51 margin at the break.
Willamette outscored the Loggers 52-32 in the second half. Plumer connected on a 3-pointer to open the second half. The trifecta opened a 9-0 run by the Bearcats that also included a 3-pointer by Watts and another 3-pointer from Plumer. Willamette, which sank 16 of 30 three-pointers (53.3%) during the game, led 60-54 with 18:00 to play.
The Bearcats extended their advantage to 74-62 on a 3-pointer by Watts with 14:36 left and remained in front by double digits for the rest of the game. The lead reached 17 points at 83-66 when Boydell put in a layup at the 11:30 mark. Later, the Bearcats moved the score to 95-71 on a traditional three-point play from Watts with 6:22 remaining. Willamette's largest lead was 103-75 with 4:28 to go.
In the second half, Willamette shot 62.5% from the field (20 of 32) to finish the game 40 of 67 overall. The Bearcats made 7 of 11 three-pointers during the final 20 minutes for 63.6%. During the game, WU was 7 for 9 at the free throw line.
The Loggers were held to 47.1% shooting for the game (32 of 68). After shooting 61.8% (21 of 34) in the first half, Puget Sound shot just 32.4% (11 of 34) in the second half. For the game, the Loggers hit 10 of 27 three-pointers (37.0%) and 12 of 15 free throws (80.0%). Willamette forced the Loggers into 24 turnovers, while the Bearcats lost the ball 17 times. WU outscored Puget Sound 30-18 in points off turnovers.
Up next for the Bearcats is a game at Pacific Lutheran University on Saturday, Jan. 8. Tipoff in Tacoma, Washington, is scheduled for 6 p.m. (PST).