Puget Sound, Ranked #22, Improves to 15-3 with 75-36 Win over Willamette

SALEM, ORE. -- The University of Puget Sound women’s basketball team made sure that the 22nd-ranked Loggers would remain in first place in the Northwest Conference, as they defeated Willamette University, 75-36, on Friday, Jan. 26 at Cone Field House. UPS, now 15-3 overall and 8-1 in the NWC, entered the night one game in front of George Fox University. With George Fox idle on Friday, the Loggers increased their lead to a game and a half. Willamette fell to 4-14 on the season, including 2-7 in the NWC.

The game started slowly, with the teams exchanging baskets until the score was tied 6-6 with 16:56 left in the half. Puget Sound then went on a 13-4 run to take a 19-10 advantage. The run started with a 3-pointer by Allison Craven and ended with two more 3-pointers, including another trifecta by Craven. Morgan Harter sank the other long-range shot.

After Laura Payne (Jr., G, Sammamish, WA/Skyline HS) scored for Willamette at the 11:39 mark, the Loggers extended their lead by scoring 15 points in a row. Karen Chase hit a jumper with 7:50 remaining in the half to complete the 15-0 offensive surge and give UPS a 34-12 lead.

Willamette responded with a 7-2 run to cut the margin to 17 points, 36-19, with 4:11 on the clock. The Loggers, who shot 48.6% (18 of 37) in the first half, scored the final eight points of the period to lead 47-19 at the intermission. UPS achieved a 25-11 rebounding edge during the first 20 minutes.

The Bearcats scored the first points of the second half on a jumper by Payne, but the Loggers earned three offensive boards on their next possession, which led to a 3-pointer by Laura Hirsh to start a 7-2 run. Puget Sound led 54-23 with 16:10 left and continued to maintain control the rest of the way.

Willamette was led in scoring by Payne, who totaled 11 points on the night. Keilyn Fujioka (Fr., F, Kailua, HI/Iolani HS) contributed 10 points and four rebounds. Victoria Swigart (Jr., G, Newport Beach, CA/Newport Harbor HS) grabbed a team-high five rebounds. The Bearcats shot 33.3% (8 of 24) in each half to finish the game 16 of 48. WU was 2 of 9 on three-point shots and made 2 of 6 free throws, as UPS was called for just 12 fouls.

The Loggers shot 43.3% from the field (29 of 67), including 7 of 23 (30.4%) from 3-point range. UPS sank 10 of 13 free throws for 76.9% at the line.

Craven of UPS was the game’s leading scorer, as she hit the nets for 16 points. Harter supplied 11 points, Chase tacked on 10 points and Hirsh scored 8 points for the Loggers.

UPS achieved a 49-25 rebounding margin with a balanced effort on the glass. Natasha Ludwig led the visitors with six rebounds, while Hirsh and Marissa Cain each grabbed five boards and four other Loggers provided four rebounds apiece.

Willamette will complete a five-game homestand on Saturday, Jan. 27, when the Bearcats host Pacific Lutheran University in a Northwest Conference game. Tip-off is slated for 6 p.m. (PST).