SALEM, Ore. - The Lewis & Clark men's basketball team slipped to the Willamette Bearcats 79-70 on road Thursday night in Northwest Conference action.
The Pioneers fall to 11-11 on the season and 6-7 in conference play. The Bearcats improve their record to 4-18 overall and 2-11 in conference action.
Junior Ross Erickson finished the game tied with a game-high 22 points, while collecting five rebounds for the Pioneers. Senior Marcus Wells knocked down 14 points for Lewis & Clark while pulling down a team-high six boards. Junior Scott Pisapia scored 11 points for the Pioneers off the bench.
Willamette was led by Terrell Malley with 22 points and by Taylor Mounts, who scored 20 points and grabbed 16 rebounds.
Willamette opened the game with the first basket of the night and seemed to never look back. A jumper by Mounts with 19:43 on the clock handed the Bearcats a 2-0 advantage, before Erickson responded with a jumper of his own 37 seconds later. The 2-2 tie would be as close as the Pioneers would come to the Bearcats the remainder of the half.
After going down 15-8, senior Donato Perconti hit a three pointer to pull the Pioneers within four points of Willamette with nearly half of the period gone. The Bearcats quickly shot back with a 7-1 run to pick up their first double digit lead of the game with 8:34 on the clock. Freshman Caron Rayford laid one in with 54 seconds remaining in the half to cut the Pioneer deficit to 38-32, before a Mounts layup sent Willamette into the locker room ahead 40-32.
The Pioneer bench had a solid first half, scoring 13 of the teams 32 points, while as a team the Pios managed 12 points off of turnovers compared to the Bearcats two.
After going down 52-41 in the opening four minutes of the second half, the Pioneers put together an 11-2 run that pulled them within two points of the Bearcats with 12:36 left to play in the game. A PJ Taylor steal with 8:39 remaining setup an Erickson layup that inched the Pios within a point of the Bearcats at 60-59.
Missed shots down the stretch hurt the Pioneers who were unable to take the lead from the Bearcats. Willamette managed to increase its lead back to double figures with 3:23 to go on a Malley layup in the paint. A Pisapia free-throw with 38 seconds to go pulled Lewis & Clark within eight points of Willamette. Mounts ended the scoring with 36 seconds to go with a made free-throw of his own to earn the Bearcats the 79-70 victory.
The Pioneers return to the court on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. when they host Pacific Lutheran.