Willamette Rallies from 10-Point Halftime Deficit to Defeat Whitman, 47-46

WALLA WALLA, WASH. -- The Willamette University women’s basketball team ended the season with a victory and put a stop to an eight-game losing streak, as the Bearcats played a strong second half to defeat Whitman College, 47-46, on Saturday, Feb. 17 in Walla Wall, Wash. Willamette finished the season at 5-20 overall and 3-13 in the Northwest Conference. Whitman concluded the year at 12-13 overall, 7-9 in the conference.

The Bearcats trailed by 10 points at halftime, 28-18, but held Whitman to 22.7% shooting (5 of 22) in the second half. The defensive effort helped Willamette outscored the Missionaries, 29-18, over the final 20 minutes.

An 18-1 run got the Bearcats back in the game, as WU turned a 34-22 deficit at the 14:43 mark into a 40-35 lead with 9:36 remaining. Laura Payne (Jr., G, Sammamish, WA/Skyline HS) hit four 3-pointers during Willamette’s run, which ended with 15 unanswered points. Payne opened the run with a 3-pointer, before Whitman tacked on a free throw. Payne then scored three more 3-pointers during the 15-0 streak.

Willamette overcame a 46-42 deficit with 4:00 remaining to win the game. Rebekah Wells (Jr., G, Lynnwood, WA/Edmonds-Woodway HS) scored the game’s final five points, as she put through a 3-pointer with 3:48 left, then added a pair of free throws at the 3:04 mark to give Willamette the lead for good. Neither team scored the rest of the way. Kristina Francis took the game’s final shot for Whitman with three seconds left, but failed to score and Victoria Swigart (Jr., G, Newport Beach, CA/Newport Harbor HS) hauled down the rebound to secure the win for the Bearcats.

Payne led Willamette with 14 points and six assists. Keilyn Fujioka (Fr., F, Kailua, HI/Iolani HS) contributed 12 points and a team-high nine rebounds, plus three blocked shots, two steals and an assist. Fujioka was 5 of 7 from the field. Rebekah Wells added eight points and three boards for the Bearcats.

Willamette shot 34.8% for the game (16 of 46). The ‘Cats sank just 5 of 17 three-pointers for 29.4%, but Payne was 4 for 8 from long range. WU converted 10 of 13 free throws, including 8 of 8 in the second half.

Whitman received 11 points from Shea Morrissey, while Emily Shubin led the Missionaries with 11 rebounds. Kelsey Krumdieck joined Morrissey in double figures for Whitman, as she scored 10 points, including 8 of 10 on free throws.

Morrissey opened the game with back-to-back 3-pointers, as Whitman took a 6-0 lead. The Missionaries extended the margin to 12 points at 14-2, following a layup by Krumdieck with 13:25 remaining in the half. The Bearcats cut the lead to 19-16 at the 4:09 mark on a layup by Payne. WC ended the half with a 9-2 run to return to a 10-point advantage.

The Missionaries achieved a 35-33 rebounding edge, but struggled on offense and made just 2 of 16 two-point field goals in the second half (12.5%). Whitman finished the game 14 of 47 overall from the field (29.8%). Whitman was 6 of 12 on three-pointers.