Hamilton's Double-Double, Heinly's Threes, Rally Bearcats Past Pioneers, 65-56

Marisa Hamilton (Sr./Jr., F, Beaverton, OR/Southridge HS)
Marisa Hamilton (Sr./Jr., F, Beaverton, OR/Southridge HS)

By Timothy Walsh, Athletics Communications Writer

SALEM, Ore. -- Marisa Hamilton (Sr./Jr., F, Beaverton, OR/Southridge HS) scored 21 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, while Sarah Heinly (Fr., G, Bend, OR/Summit HS) added 16 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting, helping Willamette University rally from a 13-point deficit to defeat Lewis & Clark College, 65-56, in a Northwest Conference women's basketball game at Cone Field House on Friday, Feb. 10.

With the win, Willamette improved to 12-10 overall, including 5-8 in the NWC. The Pioneers dropped to 14-8 overall, 7-6 in conference play.

Hamilton achieved season highs in both points and rebounds, while Heinly reached double figures for the fifth time in the Bearcats' last six games. Drew Farmer (Fr., PG, Brookings, OR/Brookings-Harbor HS) also reached double figures in scoring, contributing 10 points to go with four rebounds and three assists. Alex Wert (Sr., F, Spokane, WA/St. George's HS) added eight points and eight rebounds.

Ayisat Afolabi topped L&C with game highs of 25 points and 14 rebounds. Miyah Leith was the Pioneers' second-leading scorer with eight points.

The Pioneers opened the game with a 12-2 run, and led 14-4 before Heinly connected on her first three-pointer of the game at the 2:23 mark. A Hamilton jumper and a Wert layup, sandwiched around a layup by Afolabi, cut the Bearcats' deficit to 16-11 at the end of the first quarter.

L&C started fast again in the second period, this time with a 10-2 run, keyed by six points, a rebound, a block, and an assist from Afolabi. When Alyx Crager hit two free throws with 4:40 remaining in the first half, the Pioneers' lead had stretched to 26-13.

Still, Willamette chipped away. With L&C holding a 26-17 advantage at the 3:47 mark, Hamilton and Heinly nailed back-to-back threes to cut the deficit to five points.  After Farmer and Afolabi traded free throw shots to end the half, the Bearcats trailed 29-25 at halftime.

One more Pioneer run pushed L&C's edge to 36-27 with just over five minutes left in the third quarter. But this time, the Bearcats made their move. Kylie Towry (Sr./Jr., G, Medford, OR/South Medford HS) hit a three at the 5:00 mark, starting a 10-2 run that Heinly capped with another triple, pulling Willamette within one.

Then, with 15 seconds left in the period, Ashley Evans (Jr., PG, Canby, OR/Canby HS) dialed up a long distance shot of her own, giving the Bearcats their first lead of the game at 43-41. An Afolabi layup just before the buzzer knotted the score at 43 heading into the final quarter.

The two teams traded baskets throughout the first four minutes of the fourth quarter, until Towry hit a three-pointer 6:04 left to give Willamette the lead for good. Hamilton then hit her second three of the game to push the Bearcats' lead to 59-53 with 4:23 on the clock.

From there, Willamette's defense locked the Pios down, holding L&C scoreless from the field during the game's last 3:50. Two more jumpers from Hamilton, together with an Evans free throw, sealed the win.

WU limited L&C to just 35.0% shooting (21 of 60) for the game, including just 2 of 11 (18.2%) from beyond the arc. The Pioneers did grab 15 offensive rebounds, including nine by Afolabi, and earned a 32-16 advantage in points in the paint. The Pioneers were 12 of 20 (60.0%) at the foul line.

The Bearcats shot 42.0% on field goals (21 of 50) and connected on an impressive 9 of 21 three-pointers (42.9%). Willamette made 14 of 19 free throw attempts (73.7%). Between Hamilton and Heinly, the Bearcats' bench outscored the Pioneers' reserves 37-13.

Willamette will be back in action on Saturday, Feb. 11, as the Bearcats travel to Newberg to face 25th-ranked George Fox University. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. (PST).