Late Bearcat Rally falls short in 94-87 Defeat at Whitman

Malley Hits 10 of 11 Free Throws to Lead Willamette with 23 points

By John Lind, Assistant Athletics Communications Director

WALLA WALLA, WASH. -- The Willamette University men's basketball team set its high scoring mark for conference play this season, but was unable to overcome a second half deficit against Whitman College as the Missionaries defeated the Bearcats 94-87 in Northwest Conference action on Saturday, Jan. 19.

Whitman relied on standout performances from Ben Eisenhardt, who contributed 27 points, and Josh Duckworth, who tacked on 25 points. The Missionaries shot 42.4% from the field (28 of 66), and outrebounded the Bearcats 43-39, including a 20-10 advantage in offensive rebounds. 

The two teams battled fiercely in a close first half that saw nine ties and rarely a lead over three points. Caught in a 19-19 tie, Whitman slowly built its lead to seven points at 39-32.

The Bearcats then surged back with an 8-0 run that included four free throws from Terrell Malley (Sr., G, Portland, OR/Roosevelt HS), a layup from Oliver Hughes (Sr., W, Salt Lake City, UT/Judge Memorial HS), and two more free throws from Elliot Babcock-Krenk (Sr., W, Lake Oswego, OR/Lake Oswego HS/Humboldt State Univ.).

Willamette's run put the Bearcats up 40-39 with 1:49 left in the first half.  Whitman went on a 7-0 run to end the half and held the lead throughout the second period. The lead swelled to 13 points at 64-51 as the clock reached the 16:16 mark in the second half.

With 8:55 left in the game, Willamette was down 76-67. The Bearcats mounted a furious rally, going on an 8-0 surge behind a Malley 3-pointer plus a layup and free throw by Sean Dart (Sr., P, Bend, OR/Mountain View HS/Eastern Oregon Univ.) to pull within 76-75 at the 7:24 mark.

That's as close as Willamette would get, however. Whitman went on its own 8-2 run to build an 84-77 advantage. Willamette cut the lead to 80-77 with 6:22 to go, and trailed by just four points, 84-80, with 4:18 left.

Despite trailing by nine points, 89-80, with 1:45 remaining, the Bearcats attempted one more comeback. They reduced the margin to 91-87 on two free throws by Babcock-Krenk with 46 seconds left, but Whitman regained control when Matt Mounier sank two free throws with 35 seconds on the clock.

Eisenhardt sank 11 of 17 field goals during the game on his way to recording 27 points. Duckworth's 25 points included 12-for-14 shooting at the free throw line. Mounier tacked on 16 points while hitting 11 of 12 free throws. The Missionaries were 35 of 45 (77.8%) the line.

The Bearcats played their best basketball in the second half, shooting an impressive 51.9% on 14 of 27 field goals. The Bearcats finished the game at 49.1% overall (27 of 55). WU converted 26 of 32 free throws (81.3%).

Willamette finished the night with four players reaching double figures in scoring. Malley led the way with 23 points, while connecting on 10 of 11 free throws and earning three assists. Dart accumulated 18 points, Hughes finished with 15, and Babcock-Krenk totaled 13.

The Bearcats return to action next Tuesday, Jan. 22, at home against NWC foe Linfield College. Game time is set for 8 p.m. (PST) at Cone Field House in Salem, Ore.

BOX SCORE

Whitman College 94
Willamette University 87

Senior wing Oliver Hughes scored a career-high 15 points against Whitman.

Senior wing Oliver Hughes scored a career-high 15 points against Whitman.