By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
EUGENE, Ore. -- Willamette University trailed 36-26 in the third quarter, but rallied to hold a 49-43 lead with 54 seconds left in the game, before holding off Northwest Christian University for a 51-48 victory at Morse Event Center on Tuesday, Nov. 22. Freshman Drew Farmer (PG, Brookings, OR/Brookings-Harbor HS) sank two free throws with 10 seconds left to clinch the win for the Bearcats.
The win kept Willamette undefeated at 3-0. Northwest Christian, which competes in the NAIA, fell to 1-4 on the season. The Bearcats compete in NCAA Division III.
Willamette scored the final five points of the third quarter, but was behind 36-31 entering the final period.
The Bearcats tacked on the first six points of the fourth quarter to take a 37-36 lead. Mary Eckenrode (Jr., PG, Higley, AZ/Highland HS) scored on a 3-pointer just 37 seconds into the quarter, and Ashley Evans (Jr., PG, Canby, OR/Canby HS) sent Willamette in front with a 3-pointer at the 8:14 mark.
A bit later, Evans broke a 40-40 tie by hitting another 3-pointer with 3:04 left in the game to give the Bearcats the lead for good.
WU owned a 46-41 lead after Evans connected from behind the 3-point line once again with 2:37 to go. Niki Duncan score on a jumper for NCU 24 seconds later, but Whitney Anderson (Jr., G, Willamina, OR/Willamina HS) put in a layup for the Bearcats with 1:41 to play. Anderson added 1 of 2 free throws with 54 seconds left to increase the lead to 49-43.
The Beacons used a 3-pointer by Katerina Brejchova with 39 seconds on the clock, plus a steal and a layup by Monique Thompson to cut the lead to 49-48 with 17 seconds remaining. Farmer was fouled with 10 seconds go to, and she converted both free throws to complete the scoring.
Hanna Mack of NCU missed a jumper in the closing seconds. Jeni Hoffert missed a 3-pointer for the Beacons as time expired.
Evans led the Bearcats with 13 points. She was 5 of 8 from the field and hit 3 of 5 three-pointers. Kylie Towry (Sr./Jr., G, Medford, OR/South Medford HS) added 11 points, while converting 4 of 8 field goals, including 3 of 6 on 3-point shots.
Marisa Hamilton (Sr./Jr., F, Beaverton, OR/Southridge HS) provided Willamette with eight points on 4 of 9 shoitng. Towry and Hamilton each grabbed six rebounds.
Mack scored 14 points for Northwest Christian. She also topped the Beacons with 12 rebounds and six blocked shots. Hoffert added 10 points, while Duncan and Thompson each scored nine points. Thompson and Brejchova followed Mack on the rebound chart with six boards apiece.
NCU gained a 41-39 rebounding edge and committed 16 turnovers, while Willamette lost the ball 17 times. Even so, the Bearcats gained a 19-11 advantage in points off turnovers, and also held a 15-6 lead in bench scoring.
The first quarter included three ties and two lead changes. The teams were tied 5-5 at the 6:38 mark. Northwest Christian went on to lead by three points three times, including 12-9 after a jumper by Duncan with 3:29 on the clock. WU scored the final four points of the quarter on a layup by Anderson and a jumper by Evans to move in front, 13-12.
Hamilton sank a jumper and made a layup in the first 36 seconds of the second period to give the Bearcats a 17-12 advantage. The Beacons countered with an 8-0 run, ending with six consecutive points by Mack, for a 20-17 lead with 5:50 remaining.
Towry tied the score with a 3-pointer for the Bearcats as the clock reached 5:06. Neither team put points on the scoreboard again until Eckenrode connected on a jumper with 1:03 to go and Hamilton earned a layup with 20 seconds left. Willamette owned a 24-20 margin at halftime.
Northwest Christian outscored the Bearcats, 16-7, in the third quarter. Evans put in a layup for WU to start the scoring, but the Beacons recorded the next 16 points for a 36-26 lead at the 3:46 mark. Five points by Towry on a 3-pointer and a jumper allowed the Bearcats to pull within five points at the end of the quarter.
Willamette will take on two opponents at Cone Field House this weekend. On Friday, Nov. 25, the Bearcats will play University of Redlands at 1 p.m. (PST). On Saturday, Nov. 26, Willamette will face Walla Walla University at 6:30 p.m. (PST).