Linfield Defeats Willamette Women, 66-53, Behind Stepan's 20 Points

SALEM, ORE. -- Three Linfield College players scored in double digits as the Wildcats defeated host Willamette University, 66-53, in Northwest Conference women’s basketball action on Saturday, Jan. 13, at Cone Field House. Linfield improved to 7-7 overall and to 2-4 in NWC play, while the Bearcats dropped to 3-12 overall, 1-5 in conference action.

Casey Stepan led the Wildcats with 20 points, while Sara Burgoyne and Porcia Jackson chipped in 11 points apiece. Burgoyne and Kate Stadeli each pulled down nine rebounds for Linfield.

After Willamette narrowed the score to 15-13 early in the game, Linfield went on a 23-5 run to make it 38-18 with 1:55 left in the half. The Bearcats managed to score the final six points of the opening period to pull within 14 points at 38-24.

Stepan paced Linfield in the first half, connecting on both of her 3-point attempts to finish the first 20 minutes with 11 points. Willamette junior guard Laura Payne (Sammamish, WA/Skyline HS) led the Bearcats in the first half with 10 points.

The Wildcats led by as many as 19 points in the second half, with their biggest lead achieved at 53-34 with 12:40 left. The Bearcats outscored Linfield 29-28 in the final 20 minutes.

Willamette trailed 60-44 with 6:18 left in the game but a deep 3-pointer by Sara Brooks (Sr., G, Rainier, OR/Rainier HS) with 4:41 remaining pulled the Bearcats within 62-49. The two teams went more than two minutes without scoring, before Linfield’s Brihtani Lassister hit a 3-pointer at the 2:25 mark to make it 65-49, effectively sealing the win for the Wildcats.

Payne led Willamette in scoring with 17 points, while freshman forward Keilyn Fujioka (Kailua, HI/Iolani HS) registered a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Brooks also finished in double-digits for the Bearcats, scoring 14 points, while knocking down four 3-pointers.

Brooks also dished out five assists, and finished with no turnovers in a team-leading 34 minutes of action. Rebekah Wells (Jr., G, Lynnwood, WA/Edmonds-Woodway HS) contributed seven rebounds for WU.

Both teams shot poorly on the evening, as Linfield connected on just 38.3% of its shots (23 of 60) and the Bearcats hit just 34.5% of their field goal attempts (19 of 55). Willamette did shoot 57.1% from beyond the 3-point arc, with the ‘Cats sinking 8 of 14 attempts.

Linfield doubled up Willamette in free throw attempts, as the Wildcats went 12 for 22 at the charity stripe, while the Bearcats converted 7 of 11. Willamette committed 19 turnovers (14 in the first half). Linfield lost possession 17 times (11 in the second half).

Tonight’s game marked the first of five consecutive home games for the Bearcats. Willamette will host Whitworth College on Friday, Jan. 19 at 6 p.m. (PST), before reaching the middle of the homestand against Whitman College on Saturday, Jan. 20 at 4 p.m. (PST). Linfield returns home to host Pacific University in an NWC game on Jan. 19 at 6 p.m. (PST).