WOU opens season with two wins

The Western Oregon Wolves opened their regular season on Nov. 15 with an 80-65 win, pulling away late from the Warner Pacific Knights at their home gym.

Warner Pacific (4-1, 0-0 CCC) caught the Wolves by surprise early, surging to an 18-10 lead off of aggressive offense in the paint.

After trailing 20-12 with just over 10 minutes remaining in the first half, WOU (1-0, 0-0) went on a 22-6 run to take a lead into the break. The Wolves were able to force 13 first-half turnovers and picked six steals.

Newcomer Jaylyn Richardson had five rebounds, three steals and three points in 11 minutes in the first half, getting the nod for the start. Richardson came just two rebounds shy of a double-double, finishing with 10 points and eight boards.Leading 34-29 at the break, WOU began to stretch their lead out in the second half.

Darius Lubom, who had just two points before the break, exploded offensively in the second half to finish with a game-high 19 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists in 26 minutes.

Kaleb Warner continued his knock-down shooting from three, adding in another 17 points, nine of which came from beyond the arc.

On Saturday, the Wolves shut down the Colorado Christian Cougars offense Saturday night for a 64-35 win on their home court.

Colorado Christian (1-3) briefly held a lead inside the first four minutes of the game after a pair of made free throws by Jake Hornick.

WOU (2-0) focused heavily on creating turnovers which kept the Cougars’ offense at bay for much of the game.

The Wolves finished with 20 forced turnovers while committing just five of their own.

The Wolves went on a 9-0 run into the locker room, getting eight straight points from Buster Souza in the closing minutes of the first half, to take a 36-21 lead at the break.

Souza led all scorers with 14 points off the bench in 14 minutes of play. The senior forward was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field while also pulling in four rebounds and two assists. It was only the third time in the school’s NCAA-era history that a player has been perfect from the field on seven or more shots.

Bryan Berg added in another 13 points off the bench and was 3-for-6 on 3-pointers.

That WOU run continued into the second half and stretched out to a 21-2 rally that lasted 10 minutes. The Wolves led by 31 on several occasions and never trailed in the second half.

Western Oregon got 35 points from the bench led by Berg and Souza as well as at least 10 minutes of play from every reserve.

“Ball security was good tonight,” added Shaw on the nominal five turnovers committed. “When you only give up the ball five times, the team is taking good care of it. I do want to see improvements in shooting given how well we handled it.”

The defensive performance was one of the best in recent memory. The 35 points allowed was the lowest opponent total since Walla Walla scored just 29 points Dec. 10, 2011.

Next up for Western Oregon is the Dixie State Classic, a four-team tournament in St. George, Utah. The Wolves will take on Westminster College in the first of their two games in the tournament Nov. 23 with tipoff set for 4 p.m.

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