Luedtke Notches Double-Double, but Bearcats Fall to Whitman, 88-78

Sophomore Forward Scores 24 Points, Pulls Down 14 Rebounds

By Timothy Walsh, Assistant Athletics Communications Director

WALLA WALLA, WASH. -- Willamette University got 24 points and 14 rebounds from Brandon Luedtke (So., F, Meridian, ID/Mt. View HS), but Whitman College made an early lead stand up, defeating the Bearcats 88-78 in a Northwest Conference men's basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 1.

Whitman improved to 13-6 on the year, 8-2 in the NWC. Willamette dropped to 3-16 overall, 1-9 in NWC play.

Luedtke's 24 points were just two short of his career high, set in an 89-75 loss at the University of Redlands on Dec. 19, 2013. His 14 rebounds were just one short of his career high, which he reached in a pair of victories this season: a 79-57 win over the University of California Santa Cruz and a 78-70 triumph over archrival Linfield College.

Avery Manu (Sr., Wing, Pocatello, ID/Highland HS) and Alex Hansen (Sr., W, Reno, NV/Galena HS) also reached double figures for Willamette, scoring 15 and 11 points, respectively.

The Missionaries countered with a balanced attack, placing five players in double figures. Ben Eisenhardt led Whitman with 17 points, while Tochi Oti added 16, Matt Mounier contributed 15, Evan Martin scored 14, and LuQuam Thompson chipped in 11.

Whitman never trailed in the game, opening the contest with an 8-2 run. But NWC's second-place team was never able to shake the pesky Bearcats, who hung around with good shooting and great hustle. A pair of Manu layups sliced the deficit to 8-6 at the 16:27 mark, and a jumper from Hansen closed the gap to 11-10 with 15:47 on the clock.

A 12-4 run pushed the Missionaries' lead to 23-14 at the 11:42 mark, and Whitman gradually extended its edge to as many as 16 points before a late 5-0 Bearcat spurt made the score 44-33 heading into halftime.

After the break, the Bearcats made their move. A pair of old-fashioned three point plays by Alex Brown (Jr., F, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) and Luedtke helped Willamette close within 45-39 just under a minute into the second period.

Though Whitman quickly pushed the lead back to double-digits, the Bearcats refused to go away. Trailing 50-39, Willamette put together a 12-5 run over five minutes of game time, pulling within 55-51 when Kyle McNally (Jr., F, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) fed Luedtke for a layup.

The game turned, however, with 11:14 on the clock. With the Bearcats trailing 59-52, Jake Stevens (Fr., F, Eagle, ID/Eagle HS) appeared to draw a foul en route to a breakaway layup. No foul was called, and a series of protests by the Willamette bench led to a rare technical foul.

Mounier hit both technical free throws, and Jackson Clough nailed a three-pointer on Whitman's ensuing possession, putting the Missionaries up 64-52 with 11:01 remaining.

Still, the Bearcats mustered one more rally. Down 75-59 with 6:54 left, Willamette used a 12-2 run to cut the deficit to 77-71 at the 3:53 mark. The Bearcats were unable to capitalize on opportunities to pull closer, however, as Whitman closed out the game.

Willamette shot 28 of 56 (50.0%) for the game, including a blistering 15 of 26 (57.1%) in the second half. The Bearcats limited the Missionaries to just 40.3% shooting (27 of 67) on the game, and 37.9% (11 of 29) after halftime.

Though Willamette outrebounded Whitman 40-39 and earned a 50-32 advantage in points in the paint, the Missionaries forced WU into 21 turnovers and connected on 27 of 36 (75.0%) of their attempts from the foul line. The Bearcats forced just 14 Whitman turnovers, and shot 21 of 31 (67.7%) from the charity stripe.

Whitman also accumulated a significant edge in bench points, as the Missionaries' reserves outscored Willamette's bench 41-15.

The Bearcats will play their third consecutive NWC road game on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore. Game time is set for 8 p.m. (PST).

BOX SCORE

Whitman College 88
Willamette University 78

Brandon Luedtke scored 24 points and hauled down 14 rebounds, leading all players in both statistical categories.

Brandon Luedtke scored 24 points and hauled down 14 rebounds, leading all players in both statistical categories.