Bearcats Slip Past Pacific on 3-Pointer by Wilson at the Buzzer

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Sophie Wilson (So., G, Port Townsend, WA/Port Townsend HS) hit a 33-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer, sending Willamette University to a 58-57 Northwest Conference win over visiting Pacific University on Saturday, Feb. 5. WU improved to 3-16 overall, 2-10 in the NWC, while Pacific dropped to 6-15 on the season, 2-10 in the NWC.

Willamette rallied from a 49-39 deficit with 3:05 remaining in the game. The Bearcats also overcame 12.1% shooting in the first half (4 of 33). The Bearcats trailed 23-14 at the break. WU shot 45.5% from the field in the second half (15 of 33), including 8 of 16 on 3-pointers.

Paige Jensen led Pacific with 16 points. She also grabbed nine rebounds and was 6 of 9 on field goals.

Erica Schultz provided the Boxers with eight points and 11 rebounds. She picked up her third foul with 15:09 left in the game and her fourth foul at the 7:58 mark. Even so, she managed to score six points in the second half to help Pacific maintain the lead until the final shot.

Willamette was paced by Alex Zennan (Sr., G, Sammamish, WA/Eastlake HS), who tallied 17 points and hit 4 of 7 trifectas. Zennan also hauled down eight boards. Kaileigh Westermann (Jr., F, Belfair, WA/South Kitsap HS) of WU earned 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Erin Barclay (Sr., G, Snohomish, WA/Bothell HS) added 11 points for Willamette. The Bearcats achieved a 49-48 edge in rebounding, with 15 offensive boards compared to 10 for the Boxers.

The Bearcats scored 19 points and sank five 3-pointers in the final three minutes of the game. Willamette's success from behind the arc was a key factor, because Pacific converted 8 of 10 free throws during the Bearcats' comeback.

A 3-pointer by Zennan pulled WU within 50-45 with 2:04 left. After a missed 3-pointer by Pacific, Westermann scored for the Bearcats on a layup with 1:25 to go. Kristen Corrales put in two free throws for Pacific at the 34-second mark, but Barclay drained a 3-pointer six seconds later to cut the lead to 52-50.

Corrales added two more free throws, giving the Boxers a four-point cushion. Maya McFaddin (Jr., F, McMinnville, OR/McMinnville HS) answered with a layup for WU with 15 seconds remaining.

It seemed that the Boxers might have locked up the game when Schultz connected on two charity shots with 11 seconds left. Willamette stayed in the game when Zennan netted a 3-pointer with seven seconds to go. After scoring, Zennan fouled Schultz with just over four seconds on the clock. Schultz hit the first free throw, but missed the second.

Westermann hauled down the rebound and sent the ball to Wilson, who dribbled across mid-court and launched the game-winning shot while being contested by a Pacific defender. The buzzer sounded as the ball was in flight.

The Boxers shot 32.1% for the game (18 of 56), including 28.1% (9 of 32) in the second half. The Boxers committed 19 turnovers, while WU lost the ball 17 times.

Willamette sank 12 of 21 free throws and Pacific made 14 of 21 attempts at the line. The teams finished nearly even on 3-pointers, as Pacific went 7 for 23 (30.4%) and the Bearcats were 8 for 23 (34.8%).

Prior to the game, Willamette honored former women's basketball Head Coach Cheryl Brown for her contributions to athletics and academics at the university. Brown was WU's head coach from 1982-83 through 1993-94, with a sabbatical in 1989-90.

Brown's record at Willamette was 147-128 for a .535 winning percentage. She led WU to five conference championships, was named NCIC Coach of the Year two times and NAIA District 2 Coach of the Year three times.

Brown also has been a professor and administrator in the graduate programs in Education. She was named Oregon College Physical Educator of the Year in 1992-93. She recently retired as the director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching in the Graduate School of Education.

Willamette's next game is set for Friday, Feb. 11 at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m. (PST).

Willamette University 58
Pacific University 57