Whitman Holds Off Bearcats for 52-41 Victory

SALEM, ORE. -- Whitman College built a 15-point lead during the first half, then held off a fierce rally by host Willamette University in the closing minutes, to take a 52-41 victory over the Bearcats in Northwest Conference women’s basketball action on Saturday, Jan. 20 at Cone Field House. Whitman improved to 10-7 overall and to 5-3 in NWC play. Willamette fell to 4-13 overall, 2-6 in the NWC.

The Missionaries built a 21-6 lead during the first 12:44 of play behind six points from Kelsey Krumdieck and five points from Shea Morrissey. Willamette outscored the Missionaries 11-8 over the final 7:16 to make the score 29-17 at halftime.

Whitman’s first half lead came in part from the Missionaries’ hot shooting, as they hit 44.4% (12 of 27) on field goals in the opening period. The Whitman defense also forced the Bearcats into 11 first half turnovers.

Whitman was able to extend its lead to 17 points in the second half at 39-22 with 13:20 remaining. The Missionaries held a 13-point lead, 46-33, with 4:49 to go, but a jumper by Laura Payne (Jr., G, Sammamish,WA/Skyline HS) just seven seconds later ignited an 8-0 run for Willamette that brought the Bearcats within five points, 46-41, with 1:06 left.

The string of eight consecutive points was part of a larger 19-7 run by Willamette after Whitman built its 17-point lead. Willamette’s five-point deficit heading into the final minute was as close at the Bearcats would get, as the Missionaries made six free throws down the stretch to pull out the 52-41 win.

After allowing Whitman to shoot better than 44% in the opening twenty minutes (12 of 27), the Bearcats limited the Missionaries to just 23.3% shooting (7 of 30) in the second half. In the end, however, the 15-point, first half deficit proved too much to overcome for the Bearcats.

Krumdieck led all scorers with 12 points, while Morrissey, Katie Patneaude, and Hilary White each contributed eight points for Whitman. With her eight points, Patneaude became just the 12th woman in Whitman history to score 1,000 career points. The senior from Seattle, Wash. entered the game with 992 points, and her eight points on Saturday gave her an even 1,000 for her career.

Whitman converted 12 of 14 free throws (85.7%). The Missionaries also achieved a 41-29 rebounding margin.

Payne (Jr., G, Sammamish, WA/Skyline HS), Keilyn Fujioka (Fr., F, Kailua, HI/Iolani HS) and Sara Brooks (Sr., G, Rainier, OR/Rainier HS) each had 10 points for Willamette. Fujioka also pulled down six rebounds, including three on the offensive end of the floor.

Willamette shot just 30.8% (6 of 20) in the first half, but improved to 38.5% (10 of 26) in the second half. The Bearcats were 5 for 6 (83.3%) at the free throw line during the game.

The Bearcats are in the midst of five consecutive home games. The game against Whitman was the third game of the homestand. Willamette will host the University of Puget Sound next Friday, Jan. 26, at 6 p.m. (PST).