Women's Basketball Game Night: Bearcats to Host Lutes, Play at Pacific

By Sara Brooks, Assistant Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6219

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University women's basketball team will continue its quest for the first Northwest Conference win of the season this weekend. WU will host Pacific Lutheran University on Friday, Jan. 22 and then travel to Forest Grove, Ore., to take on Pacific University on Saturday, Jan. 23. Willamette is 0-6 in the NWC and 2-13 overall.

Previous Game

Willamette vs. George Fox

George Fox University continued to roll through the Northwest Conference with a decisive 74-54 victory over the Bearcats on Friday, Jan. 15 in Newberg, Ore. The Bruins, who won the 2009-10 NCAA Division III National Championship, improved to 12-2 this season and to 6-0 in the NWC. George Fox is currently tied for first place in the conference with Lewis & Clark College.

Keisha Gordon paced GFU with 21 points in just 17 minutes of play. She also earned four steals. Hanna Munger provided the Bruins with 14 points and six boards. No Bruin players played more than 21 minutes during the game.

Junior Alex Zennan (G, Sammamish, WA/Eastlake HS) led the Bearcats with 16 points and seven boards. She hit four 3-point baskets in the game. Kaileigh Westermann (So., F, Belfair, WA/South Kitsap HS) contributed 12 points, four boards, four assists and two steals.

The Bearcats shot a better percentage from the field (44.9%) during the game than the Bruins (31.9%). WU also shot a higher percentage from behind the 3-point line, 31.6% (6 of 19) compared to George Fox's 24.1% (7 of 29). Willamette made 22 field goals, while the Bruins made 23.

Offensive rebounds and free throw shooting opportunities for the Bruins and turnovers by the Bearcats proved to be the difference in the game. George Fox pulled down 25 offensive rebounds and snagged 20 steals on 29 Bearcats turnovers.

The offensive rebounds and steals resulted in 72 total field goal attempts for George Fox. Willamette attempted just 49 shots during the game.

Upcoming Opponents

Pacific Lutheran University
Nickname: Lutes
Location: Tacoma, Wash.
Affiliations: NCAA Division III, Northwest Conference
2008-09 Record: 14-11, 8-8 NWC
2009-10 Record: 5-10, 3-3 NWC
Last Meeting: WU won 69-56 on Jan. 30, 2009 in Salem

A strong pre-conference schedule left the Lutes with a 2-7 record entering NWC play. Since then, Pacific Lutheran has battled their way to a .500 NWC record of 3-3. The Lutes have won two games in a row after a weekend sweep of Whitman College and Whitworth University.

The Lutes lost several key players to graduation last season and were picked to finish just seventh in the NWC preseason poll. Head Coach Kelly Robinson has relied on a group of young players to step up their game. Three players, Tracy Goehri (15.0), Jordan Westering (11.0) and Sara Backstrom (10.7), are averaging in double figures for the Lutes. For the season, Westering ranks seventh in the NWC in free throw percentage at 79.5% (31 of 39) and is first in NWC action at 94.1% (16 of 17).

The Bearcats split a pair of conference games with the Lutes last season. PLU won in Tacoma, Wash., by a final score of 62-52. Willamette won 69-56 in Salem, Ore.

Pacific Lutheran is currently fifth in the NWC in overall field goal percentage (38.3%), but the Lutes rank second in conference games only (42.1%). The Bearcats, who play strong defense, will need to hold PLU's top scorers below their averages to have a chance to win. Willamette also needs to keep its turnovers to a minimum.

Pacific University
Nickname: Boxers
Location: Forest Grove, Ore.
Affiliations: NCAA Division III, Northwest Conference
2008-09 Record: 11-14, 10-6 NWC
2009-10 Record: 5-8, 2-4 NWC
Last Meeting: Pacific won 72-60 on Feb. 13, 2009 in Salem

Pacific University surprised the Northwest Conference last season after finishing 10-6 and claiming the fourth conference playoff spot. The Boxers return senior First Team All-NWC guard Rochelle Reeves-Howe and Honorable Mention All-NWC post Julianne Erbe.

Reeves-Howe is averaging 15.3 points per game while Erbe adds 14.5 points per game. The inside/outside combination that these two players provide the Boxers creates a tough defensive match-up for opposing teams.

Pacific is averaging 62.8 points per conference game. However, the Boxers are giving up 71.0 points per NWC contest, the worst scoring defense in the conference. Willamette will need to control the tempo against the Boxers and control the boards to win.

Bearcat Fast Breaks

* The Bearcats are holding NWC teams to 35.5% shooting, good for second place in defensive field goal percentage in conference games.

* WU is second in the NWC in blocked shots per game with a season average of 4.27.

* Keilyn Fujioka is averaging 8.6 rebounds per game this season. She ranks second in the NWC.

* Including all games played this year, Alex Zennan ranks first in the NWC in 3-point shots made per game (2.7), fifth in scoring (14.3 avg.) and sixth in steals per game (2.13).

* Zennan needs just 13 three-pointers in Willamette's 10 remaining games to tie for third place in 3-point shots made in a single season in WU history (54). Zennan would tie former Bearcat Kelly (Sorenson) Ioane. Ioane is the wife of current men's basketball Head Coach Kip Ioane.

LIVE WEBCAST
Willamette vs. Pacific Lutheran
Friday, Jan. 22, 2010 at 5:45 p.m.

Willamette at Pacific
Sat., Jan. 23, 2010 at 5:45 p.m.

Maya McFaddin has played in all 15 games. She is averaging 5.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.

Maya McFaddin has played in all 15 games. She is averaging 5.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.