By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Willamette University held a 17-point lead in the third quarter, but a rally by Lewis & Clark College forced the Bearcats to overcome a one-point deficit late in the game before defeating the Pioneers, 53-45, in Northwest Conference women's basketball action on Saturday, Jan. 14. The win by the Bearcats at the Pamplin Sports Center left both teams with 10-5 overall records and 3-3 marks in the NWC.
WU outscored L&C 15-2 in the second quarter and led 27-14 at halftime. The Bearcats owned a 34-17 advantage after Whitney Anderson (Jr., G, Willamina, OR/Willamina HS) sank a pair of free throws with 5:44 left in the third quarter.
The Pioneers cut the lead to 38-30 at the end of the third period. Lewis & Clark then scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to tie the game on a layup by Ayisat Afolabi with 5:26 remaining.
L&C took its first lead since early in the second quarter when Alyx Crager made a 3-point basket to put the Pioneers in front, 43-42 with 3:17 left in the game.
Willamette responed by scoring the next nine points to grab the win. Kylie Towry (Sr./Jr., G, Medford, OR/South Medford HS) hit a 3-point basket with 2:29 left to start the run, and Marisa Hamilton (Sr./Jr., F, Beaverton, OR/Southridge HS) sank an 18-foot jumper with 1:56 to go for a 47-43 lead.
The margin reached seven-points at 50-43 when Ashley Evans put through a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1:06 on the clock. Towry completed the run by converting a free throw with 23.3 seconds remaining.
WU limited L&C to just 27.7% for the game (18 of 65). The Pioneers remained in the game by grabbing 20 offensive rebounds, including 15 in the second half. L&C finished with a 40-32 overall rebounding edge.
The Bearcats shot 40.9% on field goals (18 of 44) and were successful on 7 of 15 three-point attempts (46.7%). WU also connected on 10 of 12 free throws. The Pioneers were 5 of 17 from 3-point range and 4 for 8 at the line.
Willamette started strong, as the Bearcats recorded the game's first seven points. L&C missed its first five field goal attempts.
Towry opened the scoring with a drive layup just over a minute into the contest. Madi Andresen (Jr., P, Forest Grove, OR/Forest Grove HS/Clackamas CC) added a reverse layup at the end of a fast-break, and Ashley Evans hit a 3-point shot with 6:56 left in the first quarter.
L&C scored the next five points and later cut the margin to 10-9 on a seven-foot jumper by Rachel Cox with 2:08 on the clock. Drew Farmer (Fr., PG, Brookings, OR/Brookings-Harbor HS) extended WU's lead to 12-9 on a driving baseline layup with 1:17 to go, but Sarah Anderson sank a 3-pointer for the Pioneers with 50 seconds left, and the teams ended the first quarter in a 12-12 tie.
The Pioneers earned the first basket of the second quarter, but didn't score again in the first half. Meanwhile, Willamette went on a 15-0 run to take a 27-14 lead into the intermission.
Five Bearcats scored during the second-quarter surge, including Evans with two 3-pointers. Towry provided the final three points of the half on a long-range shot with 1:12 remaining. Willamette forced L&C into 1-of-13 shooting in the quarter, while the Pioneers committed two offensive fouls and a shot clock violation.
Evans led Willamette with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting, all from 3-point range. She also finished with six rebounds, four assists and thre steals. Towry contributed 13 points and five rebounds. Hamilton scored 10 points and grabbed a team-high seven boards.
Afolabi was the top performere for L&C. She achieved 12 points and led all players with 14 rebounds. Miyah Leith added 10 points for the Pioneers. Cragier tallied eight points and Lauren Wood hauled down eight rebounds.
The Bearcats will return to action on Friday, Jan. 20, when they host nearby rival Linfield College. Game time at Cone Field House is scheduled for 6 p.m. (PST).