By Jarod Spohr
This past Saturday, men’s and women’s basketball participated in their senior day games at home against Pacific Lutheran. Both teams were victorious, with the Bearcat men winning 60-46 and the Lady Bearcats edging out a victory 63-59.
Before both games started, there was a ceremony honoring the seniors. The six seniors for the men included Casey Thornton, Nico Tropent, Conin Oishi, Brendan McCullough, Nathan Sherfey and Dylan Critchfield. The six seniors honored for the women’s team were Celine Gregoire, Whitney Anderson, Mary Eckenrode, Ashley Evans and Kelsey Walker.
The men’s game started to heat up in the last ten minutes after Thornton hit a three followed by a jumper, followed by a layup by Troplent. Scoring bounced back and forth, but McCullough and Critchfield combined for five unanswered points. The Lutes started to make a brief comeback, but with about eight minutes left, the Bearcats continued their 19-5 run by scoring seven more unanswered points, with Sherfey and junior Trent Callan adding points in the mix. With this lead, our Bearcats were able to hang on to their lead for the remainder of the contest.
Junior Jordan Jenkins had a great game, finishing the night off with 13 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Nico Tropent led the team in boards, securing eight total rebounds that were critical to their victory. In addition, Thornton turned in four rebounds, and had two blocks. Other notable performances included McCullough, who scored seven points, and Oishi, who sunk a three, hauled in five rebounds, had three assists, one steal and one block.
Our Bearcat men now turn their attention to their upcoming NWC road games against Whitman and Whitworth. The Bearcats are now 11-12 overall, and 6-8 in conference. After going 2-0 on the weekend with a win on Friday as well, the Bearcats will look to build upon their success.
Before the women’s game commenced, senior Kylie Towry was honored for becoming Willamette’s all time leading scorer, and fellow seniors Anderson, Gregoire, Eckenrode, Evans and Walker were also honored for their four years of dedication to the program.
Before the women’s game commenced, Senior Kylie Towry was honored for becoming Willamette’s all time leading scorer, and fellow seniors Anderson, Gregoire, Eckenrode, Evans and Walker were also honored for their four years of dedication to the program.
The Lady Bearcats got off to a rough start in the first quarter, as they committed eight turnovers and went 0-4 from downtown. However, they turned it around in the second quarter. With PLU holding an eight point lead, the women went on an 8-0 tear led by Eckenrode, who sunk a three and a jumper to tie the game up with around 4 minutes left. The rest of the quarter saw the Lutes put together a comeback, and they narrowed Willamette’s lead down to one point at halftime.
In the third quarter, PLU was unable to gain a lead over the Bearcats. However, the score remained very close. Entering the final quarter, the Lutes were only down by one point (48-47).
With a little over eight minutes left in the fourth, Evans nailed a three to put the Bearcats up by four points. The Lutes countered fiercely with an eight point run to take the lead. But the Bearcats weren’t done quite yet.
Towry led a comeback rally in the fourth, that started with back to back layups that tied the score. With less than a minute left in regulation, she sank a three that gave the ladies a lead that they were able to hold onto for the rest of the game.
Towry’s excellent performance accounted for 73 percent of Willamette’s scoring in the fourth quarter. She finished the contest with a game-high 21 points and five assists. She also recorded three steals and three rebounds.
With an excellent win on Saturday, the ladies have officially put together their best season since 2000-01, and have clinched the #3 seed in conference standings and the NWC tournament. Their overall record is now 14-9, 10-4 in conference.
They will look to extend their success next week versus Whitman and Whitworth.