Winners of six of the last seven, Lewis & Clark wins in return to Pamplin

Winners of six of the last seven, Lewis & Clark wins in return to Pamplin

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Lewis & Clark Pioneers continued their winning streak, picking up their sixth victory in the last seven games, with a 74-56 defeat of the Willamette Bearcats on Saturday night at Pamplin Sports Center.

An early three by Markel Leonard and a layup by Cannen Roberson left the Pioneers with a 5-0 lead. The Pios kept Willamette to 11 points in the first 10 minutes and added to their lead for the remainder of the game, eventually leading by a game-high 29 points. 

Roberson continued making buckets for the rest of the night, leading all scorers with 19 points. He finished with a double-double for the first time this season after pulling down 11 rebounds. The senior had 15 by halftime.

"He's a beast," said senior Alex Jones of Roberson, an All-Northwest Conference selection last season. "We need to get him touches early on, because if we do, there is no way we're losing.

"Our main dudes got in the right position and were hitting the shots they're comfortable with. Our help defense was phenomenal and our zone defense is coming along, and that puts us in a good spot heading into next weekend."

With a 4-2 Northwest Conference record, Lewis & Clark remains tied with Whitworth for third place in the league standings. The Pios host Whitworth on Friday before facing first-place Whitman on Saturday. Both opponents are currently ranked in the national top 10.

Jordan Jenkins and Johnny Verduin led Willamette with nine points each. The Bearcats (2-13; 0-6 NWC) are still seeking their first NWC victory.

Lewis & Clark sophomore Kyle Owens was 4 of 5 on 3-pointers for the night, posting 12 points and elevating the Pioneers to a 20-point lead in the second half. Leonard, who finished with 15, also excelled from beyond the arc, making 4 of 6 to go with 5 of 8 shooting overall.

Andrew Vickers ended the night with eight points and a game-high five assists. Seniors Cory Coombe and Jones combined for 12 points in 27 minutes off the bench and had three assists apiece.

Jones, primarily a starter last season, has provided tremendous value to the Pioneers as a reserve this season. He's playing about 12 minutes per game and is averaging 4.4 points and nearly two rebounds per game.

"Coach has a defined process for us, and Cory and I know our roles, and we embrace our roles. It's important for us as leaders and makes the team better," said Jones.

Coombe has similar numbers to Jones, averaging just under five points per game in 20 minutes per game. In Friday's 59-57 win at Pacific, Coombe made the go-ahead 3-pointer, and both Jones and Coombe are in Lewis & Clark's top five in 3-pointers made this season.

Saturday's game was the start of four-straight home games for the Pioneers, which also begins a stretch of seven of the next nine contests in Portland. Lewis & Clark's game against Whitworth begins at 8 p.m. on Friday.

Other Northwest Conference Scores - Saturday

Whitman 90, Puget Sound 70
Linfield 75, George Fox 73
Whitworth 80, Pacific Lutheran 72