Pioneers start fast and beat Willamette

Pioneers start fast and beat Willamette

SALEM, Ore. -- Attempting to stay alive for a Northwest Conference postseason spot, the Lewis & Clark Pioneers made their first six shots and Andrew Vickers scored a career-high 23 points in a 73-57 win over the Willamette Bearcats on Friday night at Cone Field House.

Vickers made 8 of his first 10 shots, including four straight 3-pointers, as the Pios led by 16 at halftime and 26 with 12:00 left in the second half. It was Vickers' third-straight game with 19 or more points.

"I was just trying to come out aggressive. We knew this was a must-win game, so we came out aggressive as a team," said Vickers, who also finished with a game-high nine rebounds. "My teammates were setting great screens and great passes, and I was able to knock some shots down."

The win keeps Lewis & Clark's tournament hopes alive. The Pioneers are now tied with Pacific Lutheran for fifth place and a half-game behind Linfield for the final playoff spot, although Linfield won both games against Lewis & Clark this season. The Pios have split with Pacific Lutheran. Willamette falls to 1-12 in the NWC and 3-19 overall.

As good as Vickers' first half was, Markel Leonard took over in the second, scoring all 12 of his points in the final 20 minutes. The senior made 5 of his 7 shots in the half and had four rebounds and two assists in the game. His layup with 12:19 remaining gave the Pios their 26-point lead, the largest of the game.

Two other Pios were in double figures. Nico Bricker had 14 points and seven rebounds and Alex Jones finished with 11 points. Bricker's scores on back-to-back possessions moved the Pios up 36-17, while Jones hit two threes in the game's first five minutes to boost Lewis & Clark to a 15-4 lead.

"We just gotta keep playing like we did tonight," said Vickers when asked about how the team was going to climb back into the postseason picture. "We are a good team. We know we can win all these games. We have to come out aggressive and share the ball like we did."

Lewis & Clark (9-13; 6-7 NWC) shot 46 percent for the game, including 58 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes. Brendon McCullough and Jordan Jenkins led Willamette with 10 points apiece.

The Pioneers host Pacific in Portland on Saturday. It will be the final home game for the Lewis & Clark seniors.

"We got some great seniors and they've been great all year in their play and their leadership," said Vickers. "They've set the standard for all us young guys, showing us what we need to do and what kind of culture we have here. They're big for us and we want to go and get a win for them tomorrow night."

Along with Jones and Leonard, Cannen Roberson and Cory Coombe will play their final home game for the Pioneers. Roberson scored seven points on Friday night, moving his career total to 939.

The game against Pacific starts at 6 p.m.

Other Northwest Conference Scores - Friday

Whitman 92, Puget Sound 87
Whitworth 72, Pacific Lutheran 48
George Fox 87, Linfield 83