Willamette Holds Whitworth to 35.1% Shooting, as Bearcats Defeat Pirates, 64-58, at Cone Field House

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University held off a late Whitworth College rally on Friday, Jan. 19 at Cone Field House, as the Bearcats claimed a 64-58 Northwest Conference victory. The Bearcats upped their record in the NWC to 2-5, while Whitworth fell to 5-3. Willamette limited the Pirates to 35.1% field goal shooting (20 of 57).

The Bearcats, 4-12 overall, led by as many as 16 points in the first half, but saw the lead start to disappear in the opening minutes of the second half. Down 34-23 at halftime, Whitworth pulled to within 45-41 with 12:02 left on a 3-pointer by Alida Bower.

The Pirates managed to get within in a single point on several occasions in the final 5:30, before finally tying the game at 54-54 with 1:27 to go. Bower provided the tying points by sinking two free throws.

With just under a minute left, Bearcat forward Keilyn Fujioka (Fr., Kailua, HI/Iolani HS) pulled down an offensive rebound and scored immediately to put Willamette back up 56-54. Whitworth’s Cassie Snyder missed a running jump shot on the Pirates’ next possession, so the Bearcats got the ball back. WU’s Sara Brooks (Sr., G, Rainier, OR/Rainier HS) was fouled with 30.3 seconds left and hit the front end of a 1-and-1 to push the lead to 57-54. Brooks missed the second free throw, but Kari Woody (Sr., F, Boise, ID/Timberline HS) grabbed the offensive rebound for Willamette.

With 24.5 second remaining in the game, Victoria Swigart (Jr., G, Newport Beach, CA/Newport Harbor HS) missed the front end of a 1-and-1 for the Bearcats, but Woody was there again to pull down the offensive rebound. Woody passed the ball to Laura Payne (Jr., G, Sammamish, WA/Skyline HS), who was fouled with just over 19 seconds to go.

As Payne prepared to shoot two free throws, Whitworth Head Coach Helen Higgs was called for a technical foul. Payne knocked down both of the technical shots, then hit one of two free throws resulting from the personal foul, to put Willamette up 60-54. The Pirates pulled within four points at 62-58 with 11 seconds left, on a three-pointer by Cassie Snyder, but Payne hit two free throws for the Bearcats with eight second on the clock to complete the scoring.

Payne led all scorers with 17 points, while Woody contributed 12 points and eight rebounds for Willamette. Brooks added 10 points while dishing out six assists. Fujioka almost had her second double-double in as many games, as she finished with eight points and 14 rebounds.

After Whitworth scored the first points of the game on a layup by Snyder, the Bearcats reeled off the next eight points, with the first six provided by Woody.

From there, Willamette outscored the Pirates 20-9 to push their lead to 32-16 with 4:32 left in the half. Whitworth was able to chip away at the lead over the final four minutes of the half and trailed 34-23 at the break.

Woody led all scorers in the first half with eight points, while Brooks and Swigart each had six points for the Bearcats. Natalie Orrell and Alida Bower tallied five points apiece during the first 20 minutes for Whitworth.

The Bearcats held Whitworth to just 29.6% shooting in the first twenty minutes (8 of 27), but the Pirates managed to stay in the game by pulling down 11 offensive rebounds. Willamette shot 51.9% in the first half (14 of 27).

Bower, Orrell, and Snyder each had 12 points for Whitworth. Tiffany Corigliano contributed nine points and a team-high 10 rebounds. The Pirates made 4 of 14 three-pointers (28.6%) and converted 14 of 23 free throws (60.9%).

Willamette ended the game 24 of 57 from the field (42.1%), including 5 of 13 on three-point shots (38.5%). The Bearcats hit just 57.9% at the line (11 of 19), but achieved a 39-38 rebounding edge. Both teams were strong on the offensive glass, as Whitworth grabbed 19 offensive rebounds and Willamette recorded 16 offensive boards.

The game was the second of five consecutive home games for the Bearcats. Willamette hosts Whitman College tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 20) at 4 p.m. (PST).