By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- The Willamette University women's basketball team will begin Northwest Conference play this weekend with games at Whitworth University on Friday, Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. (PST) and at Whitman College on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 4 p.m. Willamette is 3-3 on the season after winning its last three games. After playing four games in six days between Nov. 17 and Nov. 21, the Bearcats have had more than a week to prepare for the start of NWC action.
As always, the trip to play Whitworth and Whitman will be challenging. First, there's a seven-hour bus ride to Spokane, Washington, to take on Whitworth. Then the team has a two-hour trip to arrive in Walla Walla, Washington, to play Whitman. And after playing two games in two days, there's a five-hour ride for the return trip to Willamette. Also contributing to the difficulty of the trip is the talent level of the opponents.
Whitworth is off to a 3-2 start, while Whitman is 3-2 on the season. In the 2018-19 NWC Women's Basketball Preseason Poll, Whitman was picked to finish in second place, while Whitworth was chosen to finish fifth. Willamette was ranked fourth in the Preseason Poll.
Last year, Whitman finished second in the NWC in the regular season with a 14-2 record. The Bearcats were third at 12-4. In the first round of the NWC Tournament, Willamette defeated the Blues, 55-52, in Walla Walla. George Fox University, the NWC's regular season champion, outscored Willamette 60-50 in the NWC Tournament Championship game after the Bearcats rallied for a 16-point deficit to get within two points with 2:29 left.
The Bearcats also defeated Whitman in the regular season, earning a 62-55 win in Walla Walla during the final weekend of the NWC schedule. Earlier, the Blues downed the Bearcats, 68-49, in Salem.
Whitman was ranked #9 in NCAA Division III prior to the regular season meeting in Walla Walla and the Blues were ranked #13 in the nation prior to the NWC Tournament game. Willamette finished 2017-18 with a 17-11 overall record, as the Bearcats registered their first winning season since 2000-01.
Willamette swept Whitworth last season, defeating the Pirates 79-77 in Salem and recording a 67-56 win in Spokane.
This year, Britanny Kochenderfer (Sr., G, Klamath Falls, OR/Henley HS/Idaho State Univ.) leads the Bearcats with 13.8 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. She ranks second in the NWC in rebounding and is ninth in scoring. She also ranks first for Willamette with 14 three-point baskets, nine steals and six blocked shots.
Elizabeth Logsdon (Jr., F, McMinnville, OR/McMinnville HS) follows with 8.8 points per game and is third on the team with 4.7 rebounds per contest. She is shooting 53.2% from the field (25 of 47). Drew Farmer (Jr., PG, Brookings, OR/Brookings-Harbor HS) adds 8.5 points per game to go along with a team-high 4.8 assists per game. Farmer has connected on 14 of 15 free throws to rank second in the NWC at 93.3%.
Willamette is averaging 59.8 points per game, while holding opponents to just 58.2 points per game. Opponents are shooting only 35.9% against the Bearcats, including 22.0% from 3-point range (18 of 82). The Bearcats have hit 38.1% of their field goals and have made 44 of 139 three-pointers (31.7%).
Entering Friday's NWC opener, Whitworth is averaging 67.5 points per game, while allowing 59.8 points per contest. The top scorer for the Pirates is Megan Dorney, who is averaging 13.0 points per game, while shooting 56.8% on field goals (21 of 37) and 83.3% on free throws (10 fo 12). She is tied for the team led with 6.0 rebounds per game, matching the total for Aimee Smith. Smith is second for Whitworth in scoring with 9.3 points per game and Camy Aguinaldo is third at 9.0 points per game.
Jordan Smith has tacked on 8.8 points per game for the Pirates, while Madison Moffat has contributed 7.5 points per game. Moffat is shooting 52.2% from the field (12 of 23) and has provided Whitworth with 5.5 rebounds per game.
Whitman leads the NWC with 80.0 points per game. The Blues have three players averaging in double figures topped by Makana Stone with 17.8 points per game. Stone also leads the Blues with 8.4 rebounds per game. She is hitting 55.2% of her shots (37 of 67) and is 15 for 20 at the free throw line (75.0%). She ranks first on the team with eight blocked shots and is tied for second with eight steals.
Mady Burdett has supplied Whitman with 15.0 points per game. She is first for the Blues with 19 three-pointers on 44 attempts (43.2%). She tops Whitman with 10 steals and is second with 19 assists. Kaelan Shamseldin has earned 10.8 points per game and is shooting 41.9% on 3-pointers (13 of 31). Taylor Chambers ranks first with 24 assists (4.8 avg.).