Salem, Ore. - The Alma College men's basketball team opened its West Coast road trip with a victory on Tuesday (Dec. 20), defeating Willamette University by a 75-67 margin. The Scots, which have won their last two games, are now 3-5 overall, while the host Bearcats dropped to 1-8.
Seniors Trevor Gernaat (McBain, Mich./Northern Michigan Christian/Mid-Michigan CC) and Tyler Edwards each recorded a double-double in the victory as Alma shot 51.8 percent from the floor, including 46.7 percent from three-point range. Gernaat scored a game-high 22 points on 8-for-13 shooting and pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds, while Edwards scored 10 points and grabbed 11 boards.
Senior Chase Fairchild (Rockford, Mich./Rockford) netted 15 points, including three three-pointers, while freshman Steven Harvey (Grand Rapids, Mich./Ada) came off the bench to score 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting, including 2-for-2 from behind the arc. Freshman Ryan Stevens (Lowell, Mich./Lowell) tallied five assists and three steals to lead the team in both categories.
Willamette was led by Nico Troplent's 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Hayden Russell added 14 points, including four three-pointers.
The Scots jumped on the Bearcats from the outset, building a 22-7 lead less than eight minutes into the game off of a 12-0 run that included eight points by Harvey. Alma led by by as many as 17 points in the opening frame, but Willamette started to climb back in the game, outscoring Alma by a 22-14 margin in the final 7:45 to go into halftime down by nine points at 47-38.
In the second half, the Bearcats continued to chip away at the Scots lead, eventually tying the game at 55-55 with 12:33 to play. Willamette held a brief 60-58 lead with 10:20 left in regulation, but layups by Gernatt and Edwards helped Alma regain the advantage at 62-60 with 7:09 to play. The Bearcats would pull within one point on three occasions, but Alma would get some breathing room after a layup by Edwards and a three-pointer by Gernaat gave the Scots a 71-65 advantage with 2:23 left.
In the final two minutes Alma held Willamette to two points, despite four three-point attempts from the Bearcats in the final minutes. Fairchild iced the game with 31 seconds left with a pair of free throws.
"If we could have finished plays in the first half, many of which were high percentage shots, we would have had a nice lead going into halftime," Head Coach Same Hargraves said. "That didn't happen, and they were within striking distance, which made us play very tight in the second half.
"Credit to Willamette for getting back in the game. It's always great to learn from a win like this, instead of a loss."
The Scots will remain in Salem to take on No. 8 Whitworth University (WA) on Wednesday, Dec. 21. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. Eastern at the Cone Field House on the campus of Willamette University.