Three-Point Shooting Leads PLU Past Willamette, 76-56

Manu, Hansen Reach Double Figures for Bearcats

By Timothy Walsh, Athletics Communications Writer

PARKLAND, WASH. -- Pacific Lutheran University shot 12 of 20 (60.0%) from behind the three-point line, and rode that scorching hot three-point shooting to a 76-56 win over Willamette University in a Northwest Conference men's basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 25.

PLU improved to 6-11 overall, including 3-5 in the NWC. Willamette dropped to 3-14 overall, 1-7 in NWC play. The game marked the halfway point of the NWC's 16-game round-robin schedule for both teams.

Avery Manu (Sr., Wing, Pocatello, ID/Highland HS) paced the Bearcats with 15 points on 6 of 11 shooting from the floor. Alex Hansen (Sr., Wing, Reno, NV/Galena HS) added 12 points for Willamette, while Kyle McNally (Jr., F, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) pulled down eight rebounds to go with his four points.

The Lutes' Brandon Lester led all scorers with 22 points, connecting of 6 of 9 attempts from beyond the arc. Terrell Williams contributed 18 points.

Though PLU never trailed in the game, Willamette stayed within striking distance most of the first half. A pair of layups from Manu and Brandon Luedtke (So., F, Meridian, ID/Mt. View HS) twice cut the Lutes' lead to one point early in the game, before a Williams three-pointer pushed PLU's margin to 12-4 with 12:40 left in the period.

Just over a minute later, a jumper from Alex Brown (Jr., F, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) sliced the deficit to 12-8, but back-to-back trifectas from Lester put the Lutes back on top by double-digits.

With 8:36 remaining in the first half, a layup by McNally cut the margin back down to single digits, at 20-12, but another Williams three gave PLU an 11-point lead. The Lutes stretched their advantage to as many as 16 points before Hansen drilled a three-pointer with seven seconds on the clock to cut PLU's lead to 34-23 at halftime.

Willamette made a mini-run after halftime, with a dunk from Jake Stevens (Fr., F, Eagle, ID/Eagle HS) at the 17:39 mark pulling WU within nine. However, back-to-back layups by Bryce Miller and Andrew Alness put PLU ahead 43-30.

The Bearcats, who suffered a heartbreaking 96-93 loss to George Fox University on Friday, Jan. 24, never closed within single digits again.

Willamette shot 20 of 50 (40.0%) from the field for the game, including just 26.7% (4 of 15) from three-point range. The Lutes connected on 27 of 53 attempts (50.9%) overall, to go with their 60% shooting from distance.

While the Bearcats earned an edge in rebounds (33-28) and points in the paint (30-28), PLU punished Willamette for its mistakes, earning 20 points off Bearcat turnovers. Willamette achieved just four points off eight Lute giveaways.

With the first half of NWC play complete, the will Bearcats head to Spokane, Wash., to take on NWC-leading Whitworth University on Friday, Jan. 31. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. (PST).

Pacific Lutheran University 76
Willamette University 56

Avery Manu led the Bearcats with 15 points on 6 of 11 shooting from the field.

Avery Manu led the Bearcats with 15 points on 6 of 11 shooting from the field.