Bearcats Finish Strong and Hold PLU to 27% Shooting in 51-43 Win over Lutes

Celine Gregoire (Sr./Jr., F, Woodburn, OR/ Woodburn Academy)
Celine Gregoire (Sr./Jr., F, Woodburn, OR/ Woodburn Academy)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

TACOMA, Wash. -- Willamette University saw its 10-point halftime lead over Pacific Lutheran University reduced to just two points in the fourth quarter, but the Bearcats ended the game with a 13-7 run to defeat the Lutes, 51-43, in a Northwest Conference women's basketball game on Friday, Jan. 12. Willamette's strong finish lifted the Bearcats to 8-6 on the season, including 4-1 in the NWC. Pacific Lutheran fell to 4-10 overall, 0-5 in the NWC.

The Bearcats held a 29-19 lead at halftime, but the Lutes cut the margin to 33-28 at the end of the third quarter. PLU pulled within 38-36 with 6:13 to go on layup by Kylie Rademacher. Willamette scored the next five points to start its decisive 13-7 run. After the Lutes added three points to get within 43-39 at the 4:09 mark, the Bearcats tallied eight of the final 12 points in the game.

In addition, the Bearcats limited the Lutes to just 27.0% field goal shooting (17 of 63), including only 1 of 9 from 3-points range (11.1%). Willamette struggled on offense in the second half after shooting 44.8% (13 of 29) over the first 20 minutes. The Bearcats hit just 1 of 12 shots in the third quarter (8.3%), as PLU gained a 9-4 scoring margin despite making just 3 of 16 shots (18.8%). WU shot 32.7% for the game (18 of 55).

"I'm really proud of the way we defended tonight," Willamette Head Coach Peg Swadener said. "Being able to hold a team to 43 points gives us a lot more room for error on the offensive end. It was our defense that allowed us to gut out this tough road win."

Each team grabbed 43 rebounds during the game, but Celine Gregoire (Sr./Jr., P, Woodburn, OR/ Woodburn Academy) of Willamette led all players with a career-high 16 boards, including nine at the offensive end of the court. Gregoire also scored six points to go along with three blocked shots, two steals and an assist.

Britanny Kochenderfer (Jr., G, Klamath Falls, OR/Henley HS/Idaho State Univ.) topped Willamette's attack with 14 points. She was 2 for 3 on 3-point shots. Kochenderfer provided four rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal. Kylie Towry (Sr., G, Medford, OR/South Medford HS) scored seven points in the fourth quarter to complete the game with 12 points. She grabbed six rebounds, while contributing three assists and three steals. Drew Farmer (So., PG, Brookings, OR/Brookings-Harbor HS) added seven points, while Ashley Evans (Sr., PG, Canby, OR/Canby HS) hauled down six rebounds.

For Pacific Lutheran, Rademacher led the way with 15 points on 16-of-13 shooting. Kylee Johnson tallied nine points. Anna Hurd grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. Rademacher and Emma Janousek each achieved seven boards.

After Gregoire scored the opening basket of the fourth quarter on a layup to give Willamette a 35-28 advantage, the Lutes answered with a 4-0 run to reduce the margin to three points. Towry tacked on a 3-pointer at the 8:02 mark -- giving her at least one trifecta in all 14 games this season -- as the Bearcats took a 38-32 lead. Layups by Madison Salisbury and Rademacher cut the Lutes' deficit to 38-36.

Willamette's key 5-0 run followed, starting with a free throw by Amanda Carpenter (Fr., G, Beaverton, OR/Sunset HS) with 6:02 to go. Towry hit a layup at the 5:05 mark and then added two free throws with 4:33 left, as the lead increased to 43-36.

A traditional 3-point play by Rademacher as the clock reached 4:09 allowed Pacific Lutheran to get within four points, but Kochenderfer answered with a 3-pointer for WU with 3:09 remaining. The basket by Kochenderfer began a 6-0 offensive surge. Evans sank one free throw and Farmer connected on two free throws to complete the run for a 49-39 edge with 57 seconds left.

The score was tied three times in the first 6:06 of the game. Willamette broke the third tie, 6-6, by scoring six consecutive points on a jumper by Mary Eckenrode (Sr., G, Higley, AZ/Highland HS), a layup by Farmer on a fast-break, and two free throws by Carpenter with 1:28 left. WU ended the quarter with a 14-8 lead after Carpenter put through a fast-break layup with seven seconds to go.

Pacific Lutheran battled back with a 9-2 run for a 17-16 lead after Johnson sank two free throws at the 6:50 mark in the second quarter. Willamette countered with a 7-0 run that featured two baskets by Gregoire and a 3-pointer from Kochenderfer, as the Bearcats claimed a 23-17 advantage. The Lutes tallied the next two points, but the Bearcats earned the final six points of the half -- all on jumpers by Kochenderfer -- to grab a 29-19 lead.

Three of Willamette's four points in the third quarter were scored on a layup and a foul shot by Towry at the 8:59 mark to increase the lead to 32-21. Despite not scoring again until late in the quarter, Willamette maintained an edge by holding the Lutes to just nine points. PLU was within 32-28 after Hurd converted 1 of 2 free throws with 49 seconds on the clock. Kochenderfer scored the final point of the quarter for WU on a free throw with 28 seconds left.

Willamette will host NWC rival Pacific University on Saturday (Jan. 13) at Cone Field House. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. (PST).