Willamette Defeats Linfield for First NWC Win of Season

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Molly Fillion (Sr., G, Silverton, OR/Silverton HS/Linn-Benton CC) scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Willamette University past Linfield College, 63-50, on Tuesday, Jan. 27 at Cone Field House. The win was WU's first Northwest Conference victory of the season. The Bearcats improved to 2-13 overall, 1-8 in the NWC.

Fillion was the only Bearcat in double figures, but five other WU players tallied at least six points. Kaileigh Westermann (Fr., Post, Belfair, WA/South Kitsap HS) scored eight points and hauled down a game-high 11 rebounds. Keilyn Fujioka (So., Post, Kailua, HI/Iolani School) chipped in eight points and earned six rebounds.

Amanda Juarez topped Linfield with 15 points. She made just 3 of 8 field goals, but two of her baskets were from 3-point range. She also sank 7 of 8 free throws. She achieved 11 points in the second half. Whitney Honn provided the Wildcats with eight points on the night.

After the Bearcats took a 25-22 halftime lead, Linfield scored the first four points of the second stanza to move in front by a single point. Willamette recorded the next two points on free throws by Fillion with 17:37 remaining for a 27-26 advantage. WU retained the lead for the remainder of the game.

The margin was just two points, 32-30, following a layup by Linfield's Lindsey Gummersall with 12:44 to go. Willamette responded with a 5-0 run during the next minute and a half to extend the difference to seven points, 37-30. Alex Zennan (So., G/PG, Sammamish, WA/Eastlake HS) hit a 3-pointer and Fillion added two free throws during the run.

Willamette pushed the lead to double digits for the first time at 46-36 on a layup by Zennan with 7:25 remaining. The Bearcats also owned a 54-43 advantage with 3:54 left.

Linfield got as close as 55-50 with 1:34 on the clock, following a 3-point basket by Makenzie Blythe, but Tiana Abbley (Fr., G, Honolulu, HI/Kamehameha School) nailed a 3-pointer for WU at the 1:06 mark. Abbley's trifecta started the Bearcats on an 8-0 game-ending run.

The game began with Linfield earning the first five points on its way to an 8-2 lead. Willamette recorded the next six points to tie the score, and later took a 12-10 lead. Linfield eventually claimed a 19-14 advantage, as Sarah Amina complete a 9-2 outburst with a jumper at the 5:20 mark.

Willamette tied the scored a 20-20 on a layup by Fillion. The Bearcats ended the half with a 5-2 run.

For the game, WU shot 32.7% (18 of 55). After hitting just 22.2% in the first half (6 of 27), the Bearcats improved to 42.9% (12 of 28) over the final 20 minutes. Overall, Willamette made 23 of 33 free throws and hit 4 of 9 three-pointers.

Linfield finished with 31.3% field goal shooting (15 of 48). The Wildcats connected on 5 of 17 three-pointers (29.4%) and went 15 of 20 at the free throw line.

The Bearcats achieved a 48-32 edge on the glass, including 19 offensive rebounds. WU forced Linfield into 29 turnovers, while the Bearcats lost the ball 25 times.

Willamette will host Pacific Lutheran University in Northwest Conference action on Friday, Jan. 30. Game time is slated for 6 p.m. (PST).

Willamette University 63
Linfield College 50
Molly Fillion, shown earlier this year at Linfeld, hit 4 of 9 field goals and 9 of 13 free throws in the rematch at WU.

Molly Fillion, shown earlier this year at Linfeld, hit 4 of 9 field goals and 9 of 13 free throws in the rematch at WU.

Kaileigh Westermann led all players with 11 rebounds.

Kaileigh Westermann led all players with 11 rebounds.