Western Oregon Builds Early Lead, Downs Willamette, 88-77

Manu Tops all Scorers with 17 Points for Bearcats

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

MONMOUTH, ORE. -- Western Oregon University surged out to a big early lead and used that advantage to keep Willamette University at bay, as the Wolves defeated the Bearcats, 88-77, in the first game of the Capital City Classic on Wednesday, Nov. 27 at the WOU Physical Education Building.

WOU, which competes in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and NCAA Division II, improved to 3-3 on the season. Willamette, which plays in the Northwest Conference and NCAA Division III, fell to 0-4.

Avery Manu (Sr., Wing, Pocatello, ID/Highland HS) led the Bearcats with 17 points. Adam Hastings, Lewis Thomas and Marwan Sarhan each scored 16 points for Western Oregon.

The Wolves led 14-2 with 17:07 left in the first half behind eight points from Thomas. Western Oregon owned a 31-11 lead with 8:48 to go before halftime, but the Bearcats kept preventing WOU from turning the game into a rout.

"Our first three minutes decided the game," Willamette Head Coach Kip Ioane said. "You can't spot a Division II team a double-figure lead early. Our guys played an excellent 37 minutes after that start."

A 22-12 run by Willamette -- with at least two points from each of five players -- cut the margin to 43-33 with just over a minute remaining in the first half. Eight of the final 10 points in the run were scored by Manu. The Bearcats trailed 47-33 at the break.

At the start of the second half, WOU received a 3-point basket from Mirza Sabic to take a 50-33 lead, but the Bearcats cut the margin to 53-45 with 14:21 left. Willamette's 12-3 run included six points from Alex Brown (Jr., F, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS), four from Brandon Luedtke (So., F, Meridian, ID/Mt. View HS) and two from Manu.

The teams exchanged the next two baskets, and then Devon Alexander hit a layup and a field goal at the 12:58 mark to give the Wolves a 58-47 edge. Hayden Russell (Fr., G, Woodland, Ca/Da Vinci HS) countered with a jumper for Willamette 15 seconds later to pull the Bearcats within nine points.

Sabic scored next on a layup for the Wolves to start a 5-0 run. WOU eventually took a 70-52 advantage with 8:18 on the clock following a tip-in by Sabic. Willamette tallied the next six points to reduce the deficit to 70-58. The Bearcats cut the lead to nine points twice in the final minute.

Willamette outscored Western Oregon 66-57 in the final 28 minutes, including a 44-41 margin in the second half.

"Avery Manu and Brandon Luedtke had 12 assists between them, and I thought Kyle McNally played great defense all night," Ioane noted.

Manu was one of four Bearcats with double-digit scoring. Brown finished with 13 points and was 5 for 5 at the free throw line. Luedtke tacked on 11 points, while grabbing five rebounds and earning a game-high four steals. Alex Hansen (Sr., Wing, Reno, NV/Galena HS) achieved 10 points.

In addition to leading WU in scoring, Manu recorded five assists and two steals. Kyle McNally (Jr., Post, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) hauled down five rebounds and blocked three shots.

A total of five Western Oregon players reached double figures. Following the trio of Hastings, Thomas and Sarhan were Rodney Webster with 15 points and Sabic with 14 points. Sabic and Hastings led the Wolves with seven rebounds apiece, helping WOU claim a 34-21 rebounding margin. Thomas added five boards and three blocked shots.

Willamette shot 42.1% for the game (24 of 57). After hitting just 33.3% (10 of 30) in the first half, the Bearcats made 14 of 27 shots (51.9%) over the final 20 minutes. The Bearcats committed 13 turnovers, while forcing the Wolves to lose the ball 16 times.

Western Oregon shot 53.3% in the first half (16 of 30), but cooled off a bit in the second half to 47.8% (11 of 23). The Wolves were 27 of 53 overall (50.9%).

Both teams excelled at the foul line. The Bearcats converted 24 of 30 free throws (80.0%), while Western Oregon sank 29 of 35 (82.9%).

The Capital City Classic will continue on Friday, Nov. 29, when the Bearcats will take on Corban University at 4:15 p.m. (PST). The final game of the tournament will be played on Saturday, Nov. 30 between Western Oregon and Corban, starting at 4:15 p.m.

BOX SCORE

Western Oregon University 88
Willamette University 77

Tournament Website

Avery Manu scored 17 points and sank 9 of 9 free throws, while earning five assists and two steals for the Bearcats.

Avery Manu scored 17 points and sank 9 of 9 free throws, while earning five assists and two steals for the Bearcats.