Wildcats Slip Past Bearcats, 68-64

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

McMINNVILLE, ORE. -- Casey Stepan hit a 3-pointer with 27 seconds left, breaking a 64-64 tie and sending Linfield College on its way to a 68-64 victory over visiting Willamette University, in a Northwest Conference game on Tuesday, Jan. 15. Linfield upped its overall record to 8-6 and improved to 1-4 in the NWC with the win. The Bearcats fell to 3-11 overall, 1-4 in the NWC.

Molly Fillion (Jr., G, Silverton, OR/Silverton HS/Linn-Benton CC) was WU's top scorer with 19 points. She converted 7 of 12 field goals. Fillion also provided the Bearcats with a game-high nine rebounds, plus three assists and two steals.

Laura Payne (Sr., G, Sammamish, WA/Skyline HS) tacked on 17 points for Willamette, while Jenny Fillion (Jr., G, Silverton, OR/Silverton HS/Linn-Benton CC) contributed 11 points, five rebounds and three assists. Tracie Nygaard (Sr., F, Knappa, OR/Knappa HS) provided eight points and five boards.

Linfield's leading scorer was Brihtani Lassiter, who tallied 20 points and hauled down eight rebounds. Stepan added 15 points, including a 3-of-5 effort on 3-pointers. Kate Stadeli was credited with 11 points and five rebounds.

The Bearcats led 9-6 about midway through the first half, but trailed 27-24 at halftime. Payne scored seven points for Willamette during the first 20 minutes, while Lassiter topped Linfield with nine points in the opening period. The Wildcats outrebounded WU, 23-17, in the first half, including a 13-2 edge in offensive boards.

Willamette outshot Linfield, 41.2% to 24.3% in the first half, but the Wildcats had 20 more shots on the strength of LC's 13 offensive rebounds plus 15 turnovers by the Bearcats. Linfield committed 10 turnovers in the first half.

Linfield held a 46-40 lead with 10:36 left in the game. WU eventually pulled within 56-55, when Payne drove to the hope and sank a short jumper with 6:37 to go. The Bearcats moved in front 58-56 after Molly Fillion scored on a layup and converted a foul shot with 5:07 to go.

The game was close the rest of the way. Linfield tied the game at 58-58, before the Bearcats took a 60-58 lead on a four-foot jumper by Jenny Fillion with 4:17 remaining.

Linfield led 62-60, but Payne tied the score with two free throws at the 2:08 mark. Stepan grabbed an offensive rebound and scored for LC with 1:43 left, and Alex Zennan (Fr., G, Sammamish, WA/Eastlake HS) hit a jump shot for Willamette with 1:22 to go.

Just prior to Stepan's go-ahead shot, the Bearcats had a chance to take the lead. Payne launched a 3-point attempt
with 34 seconds left, but the ball bounced off the rim.

After Stepan gave Linfield the lead, WU had an opportunity to pull within a point at the 13-second mark, as Molly Fillion missed a contested shot near the basket. Stadeli grabbed the rebound, was fouled, and converted the second of two free throws for Linfield with 10 seconds left to clinch the win.

For the game, Willamette shot 45.8% from the field (22 of 48), including 48.4% in the second half (15 of 31). Linfield connected on 24 of 62 shots from the field (38.7%), after improving to 60.0% in the second half (15 of 25).

The Bearcats sank 16 of 22 free throws (72.7%) and made 4 of 14 three-pointers. Linfield was 16 of 21 at the line (76.2%) and converted 4 of 16 shots from 3-point range. The Wildcats achieved a 38-32 rebounding edge.

Willamette will return to action on Saturday, Jan. 19 at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m. (PST).

Linfield College 68, Willamette UNiversity 64
Molly Fillion scored 19 points and hauled down nine boards against Linfield College.

Molly Fillion scored 19 points and hauled down nine boards against Linfield College.