Pirates Hit 26 of 32 Free Throws to Defeat Bearcats, 78-69

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Alida Bower scored 20 points and Whitworth University hit 26 of 32 free throws, as the visiting Pirates defeated Willamette University, 78-69, in a Northwest Conference women's basketball game on Friday, Jan. 12 at Cone Field House. Whitworth upped its record to 7-5 overall, 1-2 in the NWC. Willamette dropped to 1-8 overall, 0-2 in the conference.

Bower led three Pirates in double figures. Natalie Orrell and Cassie Pilkinton each tacked on 13 points. Tiffany Corigliano was Whitworth's top rebounder with 10 board, while Kim Bluff provided the Pirates with five assists.

Willamette's Molly Fillion (Sr., G, Silverton, OR/Silverton HS/Linn-Benton CC) scored a career-high 27 points. She was 10 of 14 from the field and made 6 of 10 free throws. Fillion also grabbed 13 rebounds.

Jenny Fillion (Sr., G, Silverton, OR/Silverton HS/Linn-Benton CC) also excelled for the Bearcats with 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists. She was 7 of 12 on field goals and 4 for 5 at the line. Also reaching double figures for Willamette was Alex Zennan (So., G/PG, Sammamish, WA/Eastlake HS), who totaled 10 points and earned three assists.

The Bearcats shot 56.5% for the game (26 of 46) and limited Whitworth to 34.9% shooting (22 of 63). Willamette also achieved a 36-30 rebounding margin. The Pirates shot 81.3% at the foul line, forced 25 turnovers and hit 8 of 20 three-point attempts, to offset Willamette's overall advantage from the floor. Whitworth committed just nine turnovers.

Willamette started the game strong, and owned a 7-1 lead at the 16:42 mark. Later in the half, the Bearcats were in front, 13-9, but Bower hit a jumper and a 3-pointer to give the Pirates a 14-13 lead with 10:26 on the clock.

A 3-pointer by Pilkinton with 5:54 remaining in the stanza increased Whitworth's margin to 11 points, 29-18. Willamette cut the deficit to six points twice, including 31-25 with 4:41 on the clock, but the Pirates ended the half with a 13-7 run to take a 44-32 advantage.

Whitworth maintained a double-digit lead for much of the second half, but The Bearcats continued to battle and pulled within 63-55 on a free throw by Molly Fillion with 7:29 left. Bower, who finished 4 of 8 on 3-pointers, nailed a long-range shot with 6:53 to go, and Orrell put in a layup 38 seconds later, as Whitworth claimed a 68-55 edge.

Even so, the Bearcats cut the margin to seven points, 70-63, as the clock reached the 4:00 mark. Willamette's 8-2 run opened with five points by Molly Fillion and closed with a basket and a foul shot by Zennan.

The Pirates scored the next four points on two free throws by Pilkinton and a layup by Orrell. The Bearcats pulled back within seven points, 76-69, at the 27-second mark, but Orrell closed out the game with two charity shots 11 seconds later.

Willamette was playing its first home game since the death of Head Coach Bruce Henderson from a heart-related incident on Dec. 8. The 'Cats will remain at home on Saturday, Jan. 10 to host Whitman College in NWC action. Tipoff at Cone Field House is set for 4 p.m. (PST).

Whitworth University 78
Willamette University 69
Molly Fillion was 10 of 14 from the field and grabbed 13 rebounds against Whitworth.

Molly Fillion was 10 of 14 from the field and grabbed 13 rebounds against Whitworth.

Jenny Fillion registered 18 points for the Bearcats.

Jenny Fillion registered 18 points for the Bearcats.