Defensive Effort Sends Bearcats Past Lutes, 52-44

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

TACOMA, WASH. -- A tremendous defensive effort in the second half allowed Willamette University to rally from a 28-21 halftime deficit and defeat Pacific Lutheran University, 52-44, in a Northwest Conference game on Friday, Feb. 19. Willamette held the Lutes to just 16 points and just 2 of 33 shooting (6.1%) in the second half. PLU shot 20.6% shooting for the game (13 of 63).

With the victory, Willamette moved to 4-20 on the season, including 2-13 in the NWC. Both of WU's conference wins have been against Pacific Lutheran. The Bearcats also downed the Lutes, 64-49, in Salem, Ore., on Jan. 22. The loss in the rematch dropped PLU to 7-17 overall, 5-10 in the NWC.

Alex Zennan (Jr., G, Sammamish, WA/Eastlake HS) led Willamette with 14 points and four assists. Keilyn Fujioka (Jr., Post, Kailua, HI/Iolani School) tacked on 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Nicki Clowdsley (Sr., Post, Sammamish, WA/Skyline HS) hauled down 11 boards for the Bearcats. Clowdsley also tallied seven points.

Jordan Westering led PLU with 11 points. She also grabbed eight rebounds. Melissa Pixler registered nine points and six rebounds for the Lutes, while Meghan Dowling earned 11 boards. PLU achieved a 60-49 rebounding edge, including 21 offensive rebounds.

The Lutes led throughout the first half. PLU surged out to a 12-2 lead at the 12:35 mark and owned a 24-10 advantage following a jumper by Westering with 7:04 on the clock. The Bearcats reduced the margin by finishing the half with an 11-4 run that included six points by Zennan and four by Kaileigh Westermann (So., F, Belfair, WA/South Kitsap HS).

WU maintained its scoring strength at the beginning of the second half. The Bearcats went on a 10-3 run to tie the game at 31-31 on a jumper by Maya McFaddin (So., G, McMinnville, OR/McMinnville HS) with 13:59 left.

Pacific Lutheran's first eight points of the second half were recorded at the free throw line. The Lutes went a total of 11 minutes and 28 seconds without a field goal -- from the 4:18 mark of the first half until 7:10 remained in the second half. After Tracy Goehri scored on a jumper to end the field goal drought, the Lutes trailed 43-38.

PLU cut the lead to three points at 43-40 with 6:36 on the clock and 45-42 with 4:38 remaining. Willamette went on a 5-0 run, all at the free throw line, and did not allow the Lutes to score again until four minutes elapsed.

The Bearcats shot only 28.8% for the game (17 of 59), but made 34.6% of their shots (9 of 26) in the second half. WU also forced 24 turnovers, as the Lutes lost the ball 12 times in each half. Zennan led the Bearcats with five steals.

Both teams barely shot 50% at the free throw line. Willamette made 18 of 36 free throws, while PLU connected on 15 of 29 charity shots.

Willamette will host Pacific University in the Bearcats' final game of he season on Saturday, Feb. 20. Game time at Cone Field House is slated for 6 p.m. (PST).

BOX SCORE
Willamette University 52
Pacific Lutheran University 44
Alex Zennan scored 14 points, provided four assists and earned five steals against PLU.

Alex Zennan scored 14 points, provided four assists and earned five steals against PLU.