Poets Control Boards, Pull Away in Second Half for Win over Bearcats

Kassin Hopkins (Sr., G, Connell, WA/Connell HS/Bellevue College)
Kassin Hopkins (Sr., G, Connell, WA/Connell HS/Bellevue College)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

WHITTIER, Calif. -- Whittier College outscored Willamette 25-13 in the second half to pull away from a six-point halftime lead and defeat the Bearcats, 49-31, on Friday, Nov. 29 at the Graham Athletic Center. Whittier outrebounded the Bearcats 35-21, including an 11-4 edge in offensive boards. The Poets improved to 3-3 on the season, while Willamette fell to 5-3. It was the third game in four days for the Bearcats and the second game in five days for Whittier.

Cali Cubel led the Poets with 14 points and four steals. She also grabbed three rebounds and had one assist. Teani White provided Whittier with eight points, five boards, four assists and two steals. Shaeleigh Wright led all players with seven rebounds. The Poets shot 41.2% from the field (21 of 51) and sank 5 of 7 free throws (71.4%).

Ava Kitchin (Fy., F, Redmond, OR/Redmond HS) and Claire Bonnet (Fy., G, Boise, ID/Boise HS) each scored six points for Willamette. Ashlyn Ascuena-Mercil (Fy., F, Boise, ID/Timberline HS) finished with five points, while Sami Riggs (Fy., G, La Verne, CA/Bonita HS) contributed four points and five rebounds. Willamette was limited to 25.6% (10 of 39) on field goal shooting, but the Bearcats converted 8 of 11 free throws (72.7%).

Kassin Hopkins (Sr., G, Connell, WA/Connell HS/Bellevue College) hit a 3-pointer 44 seconds into the game to give Willamette a 3-0 lead. Nearly three minutes passed without either team scoring, but Hopkins sank 1 of 2 free throws with 6:33 on the clock to increase the advantage to 4-0.

A bit later, Whittier took a 6-4 lead on a layup by Cabel, but Madison Ballard (So., G, Monroe, OR/Monroe HS) put through a 3-pointer at the 3:17 mark and Ascuena-Mercil tacked on a layup with 2:29 to go in the quarter, as the Bearcats claimed a 9-6 lead. Whittier eventually tied the score at 10-10, before Allison Lou scored for the Poets on a 3-point shot with five seconds left for a 13-10 lead.

WU pulled within 13-12 on a jumper by Elizabeth Logsdon (Sr., F, McMinnville, OR/McMinnville HS) with 9:46 still to be played in the half. The Poets answered with a 5-0 run for an 18-12 advantage as the clock reached 8:23. The Bearcats got as close as four points three times before the end of the second quarter, including 22-18 on a layup by Riggs with 2:49 to play. A layup by White for the Poets at the 2:31 mark increased Whitter's edge to 24-18, which remained the score at halftime.

The third quarter was key for the Poets, who outscored the Bearcats 14-4 during the 10-minute period, while limiting Willamette to 1-for-11 shooting. White put through a layup near the start of the quarter, and Bella Robles added a jump shot more than three minutes later at the 6:34 mark, as Whittier claimed a 28-18 lead.

Willamette trailed by eight points, 30-22, after Kitchin recorded a layup with 5:28 to go. The Poets scored the final eight points of the quarter, starting with back-to-back jumpers by Cubel, to build a 38-22 margin. Whittier earned the first seven points of the final quarter to extend the lead.

The Bearcats will play again on Saturday, Dec. 7, when they are scheduled to host Lewis & Clark College in a Northwest Conference game at Cone Field House. Game time is set for 4 p.m. (PST).