Five Bearcats Reach Double Figures in 61-49 Win over Whittier

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

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- Willamette University placed all five starters in double figures and held Whittier College to just 25.9% on field goal shooting, as the Bearcats defeated the Poets, 61-49, on Friday, Dec. 4 in the second round of the Tiger/Poet Classic at Occidental College. Willamette improved its record to 2-4 on the season. Whittier lost its third consecutive game and fell to 3-3 overall.

The Bearcats were led by junior guard Alex Zennan (Sammamish, WA/Eastlake HS), who scored 14 points. Keilyn Fujioka (Jr., Post, Kailua, HI/Iolani School) supplied 12 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

Three Willamette players finished with 10 points on the night. They were Erin Barclay (Jr., G, Snohomish, WA/Bothell HS), Maya McFaddin (So., G, McMinnville, OR/McMinnville HS) and Kaileigh Westermann (So., F, Belfair, WA/South Kitsap HS).

Westermann also provided WU with nine rebounds, two blocks, two seals and two assists. Barclay led players with seven assists and six steals.

Tina Merlino topped Whittier with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Morgan Sabala scored 12 points and hauled down seven boards for the Poets.

Willamette played exceptional defense in the first half, when the 'Cats limited Whittier to 21.9% shooting (7 of 32). The Poets went 0 for 7 on three-pointers in the first half and finished the game 0 for 13 from behind the arc. Willamette built a 31-22 halftime lead.

The Bearcats jumped out to a 13-4 lead in the first 8:03 of the game. Whittier eventually cut the margin to two points, 24-22, on a jumper by Alex Bassett with 3:56 left in the half.

Willamette scored seven consecutive points before heading into the intermission. McFaddin opened the run with a jumper and closed it on a layup with 19 seconds remaining.

At the start of the second half, Fujioka and Zennan each tacked on a jumper to increase the lead to 35-22, as the run went to 11-0. The Poets pulled within 39-30 on a layup by Sabala at the 13:44 mark , but WU responded with a 7-0 run for a 46-30 lead with 11:46 left.

Willamette retained a double digit lead until the final three minutes, even though Zennan fouled out with 7:11 remaining and Westermann fouled out with 5:53 on the clock. Whittier cut the Bearcats' advantage to nine points with 2:42 and 1:28 left, but was unable to get closer.

In Saturday's second game, Lewis & Clark College defeated Occidental, 70-59. L&C went 2-0 in the Tiger/Poet Classic, while Willamette and Occidental each finished 1-1 and Whittier went 0-2.

An extended story will be posted soon.

Willamette University 61
Whittier College 49
(Tiger/Poet Classic
at Occidental College)
Keilyn Fujioka connected on 6 of 12 field goals and hauled down 13 rebounds for the Bearcats.

Keilyn Fujioka connected on 6 of 12 field goals and hauled down 13 rebounds for the Bearcats.