By Eric Del Prado
While many of us were at home relaxing over winter break, the Willamette University men’s basketball team was here in Salem perfecting their craft. Over the break the team played seven games, including the start of Northwest Conference play.
The team got their first win over the break against Trinity University, beating them with a score of 75-66. Senior Brendon McCullough led the way with 25 points while senior Nathan Sherfey tacked on 18 points. The team came out strong, leading 10-3 early in the game. However, this did not last long as Trinity ended up leading at halftime. However the Bearcats came on strong in the second half and came away with the victory.
The Bearcats also won two conference games over the break, defeating Pacific Lutheran University by a score of 80-49 and Pacific University by a score of 83-67. Against Pacific Lutheran, junior Jordan Jenkins led the way 21 points. Jenkins dominated all sides of the game as he added in five rebounds, six assists and two blocked shots. The junior forward did this efficiently as he only missed one shot all game, shooting eight of nine. Senior wing Nico Troplent also added 13 points, while junior guard Trent Callan added a team high nine assists.
Against Pacific Troplent was the scoring leader. He scored a career high 24 points. He also added a team high 10 rebounds and five assists. Jenkins added to the mix again scoring 15 points, while McCullough added 12 points.
This past weekend saw the Bearcats face a mighty challenge as they faced two top ten teams in the country. Whitworth University is currently ranked seventh in the nation and Whitman College is ranked number one. While the Bearcats were not able to steal a win from the top teams in the country, they did make the games competitive. This shows the potential of the team as they move forward in conference play.
Through 17 games Jenkins leads the way for the Bearcats averaging 12.8 points per game. Close behind him is Troplent and McCullough who average 11.2 and 10.7 points per game, respectively. Jenkins is shooting 57.1 percent from the field, Troplent is shooting 48.9 percent and McCullough is shooting 39.5 percent. Jenkins and Troplent are also the leaders when it comes to rebounding. Jenkins averages 7.4 rebounds a game, while Troplent averages 5.1 rebounds a game.
The Bearcats continue conference play this weekend with games at George Fox and Lewis and Clark this Friday and Saturday.