Pirates Steal A Win from Bearcats, 56-46

By Sara Brooks, Assistant Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University women's basketball team could not maintain their two point halftime lead and eventually fell to Whitworth University, 56-46 on Saturday, Jan. 2 at Cone Field House. Despite a strong defensive effort, the Bearcats could not overcome a cold shooting night in their first Northwest Conference game of the season.

Willamette jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a basket by Maya McFaddin (So., G, McMinnville, OR/McMinnville HS). The Bearcats climbed out to their biggest lead of the game with just over four minutes remaining in the first half on a basket from Sophie Wilson (Fr., G, Port Townsend, WA/Port Townsend HS). Wilson's jumper gave WU a 19-8 advantage.

After a jumper by McFaddin with two minutes remaining in the half, the Bearcats' offense went cold and Whitworth finished the first half on an 8-0 run. Willamette led 21-19 at the intermission.

The Pirates picked right back up where they left off, as they started the second half with a 9-0 run. Willamette did not score in the second half until Keilyn Fujioka (Jr., P, Kailua, HI/Iolani School) hit a layup with 13:58 remaining in the game.

Despite the 17-0 run, Willamette still trailed by just five points with seven minutes left and by six points, 42-36, with 5:35 to play. A jumper by Cassie Pilkinton of Whitworth, extended the margin to 44-36 with 4:59 remaining.

Willamette's full-court pressure in the final minutes managed to force the Pirates into multiple turnovers. Still, the Bearcats could not climb over the final hump in the last minutes of the game.

Whitworth scored eleven points off turnovers and received nine points from its bench players during the game. In comparison, Willamette had just three points off turnovers and three points from their bench.

Turnovers were a key statistic for the Bearcats. WU turned the ball over 25 times while Whitworth lost the ball only 12 times.

Both teams were plagued by poor shooting throughout the night. Willamette shot 24.5% from the field and 25% from the three point line. Meanwhile, Whitworth shot 25.8% from the field and 26.9% from the three point line. The Pirates made just two of their first 28 shots (7.4%) and were only 6 of 34 at halftime (17.6%). Willamette was successful from the free throw line, connecting on 16-19 attempts (84.2%).

Alex Zennan (Jr., G, Sammamish, WA/Eastlake HS) led the Bearcats in scoring with twelve points. Whitworth had three players in double figures. Leah Pomante led the Pirates with eleven points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Fujioka contributed nine points, eleven rebounds, four assists and two blocks for the Bearcats. McFaddin finished the game with six points and eight rebounds. Erin Barclay (Jr., PG, Snohomish, WA/Bothell HS) scored eight points and notched two assists.

Willamette fell to 2-8 overall and 0-1 in the NWC. Whitworth moved to .500 overall at 5-5, while starting NWC play at 1-0.

The Bearcats are back in action on Sunday, Jan. 3 against Whitman College. Game time is set for 1 p.m. (PDT) at Cone Field House.

Whitworth University 56
Willamette University 46
Keilyn Fujioka achieved nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds, plus four assists, three blocks and one steal.

Keilyn Fujioka achieved nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds, plus four assists, three blocks and one steal.