Boxers Rally Past Bearcats in NWC Battle, 60-57, as Curl Scores 28 Points

Alex Wert (Jr., F, Spokane, WA/St. George's HS)
Alex Wert (Jr., F, Spokane, WA/St. George's HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistante Athletics Director, Communications

FOREST GROVE, Ore. -- Sarah Curl scored 28 points and hauled down 10 rebounds to lead Pacific University to a 60-57 win over Willamette University in Northwest Conference action on Saturday, Jan. 21. The game was a competitive battle, with the Bearcats holding the lead for most of the afternoon.

Pacific moved in front for good on a layup by Karli McHone with 2:22 left and held a 58-55 lead with 1:37 to go. Even so, the Boxers didn't have the win in hand until the fourth quarter ended.

It was a gutsy effort by the Bearcats, who entered the game trying to overcome injury and illness. Regular starter Ashley Evans did not play due to an injury she received in Friday's game with Linfield. Several other Bearcats were not at full strength.

Pacific improved to 4-13 on the season, 2-6 in the NWC. Willamette fell to 11-6 overall, 3-5 in the NWC.

McHone joined Curl in double figures for the Boxers. She scored 17 points and was 9 for 10 at the free throw line. Curl was 10 for 22 on feidl goals and 7 for 8 on free throws. Charlie Elliott provided the Boxers with 10 rebounds.

Marisa Hamilton topped Willamette with 15 points and was 5 of 10 on field goals. She also grabbed five rebounds.

Sarah Heinly connected on 5 of 10 field goals, including 3 of 8 three-pointers, to score 13 points for the Bearcats. Alex Wert produced a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards.

Willamette took a 5-2 lead on a jumper by Mary Eckenrode and a three-point play by Madi Andresen. Pacific countered by scoring nine of the next 11 points, including eight points by Curl.

Marisa Hamilton (Sr./Jr., F, Beaverton, OR/Southridge HS) Hamilton responded with a 10-0 run for the Bearcats. She scored on a layup, a 12-foot jump shot, and a 10-foot jumper, before completing her individual run by hitting 1 of 2 free throws and connecting on a 3-point shot. WU held a 17-11 lead with 56 seconds left in the quarter.

Curl countered with a layup 15 seconds later. She hit 1 of 2 free throws with 8.2 seconds on the clock to reduce the Boxers' deficit to three points. Wert of Willamette hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 20-14 lead.

The Bearcats opened the second quarter with a 7-3 run to increase the margin to 27-17. Each team added a pair of free throws, before the Boxers used an 11-3 run to pull within 32-30 on a layup by Karli McHone with 3:21 remaining in the half.

Kylie Towry of Willamette canned a 3-pointer for a 35-30 lead with 2:16 to go. On Pacific's next possession, the Boxers kept the ball alive with three offensive rebounds. McHone was fouled while driving toward the basket following the third rebound, She sank both free throws with 1:41 left, as the Boxers pulled within 35-32 at the half.

Curl tied the game at 35-35 with a 3-pointer at the end of a three-shot possession by the Boxers with 8:42 left in the third quarter.

Willamette regained the lead on a driving layup by Heinly with 7:08 on the clock. Heinly followed up with a 3-point basket just under a minute later, as WU took a 40-35 advantage. Heinly's five points started a 10-0 run for the Bearcats.

Six straight points from Curl cut Willamette's lead to 45-41 with 2:34 left in the third quarter. Willamette held a 48-44 margin after three quarters.

Curl recorded the first two baskets of the fourth period for Pacific. Her short jump shot with 6:24 to go created a deadlock at 48-48. Heinly netted a 3-pointer for Willamette to put the Bearcats in front 51-48 at the 5:10 mark.

WU remained in front until McHone scored on a layup with 2:22 left to give the Boxers a 56-55 edge. Hamilton missed on a drive layup with about minutes remaining, and Elliott hit two free throws for the Boxers with 1:37  to go.

Celine Gregoire of WU cut the lead to a single point at 58-57, when she sank two free throws with 1:21 on the clock. The Bearcats had the ball with 29 seconds left, but missed two shots, including Hamilton's follow-shot with about eight seconds left.

Wert grabbed the rebound, but the ball was knocked out of her hands. WU fouled McHone with 4.6 seconds on the clock. McHone hit both free throws. The Bearcats had to go the length of the floor, but got a good look as Heinly missed a 26-foot three-point shot just before the buzzer sounded.

Willamette shot 45.7% for the game (21 of 46) and connected on 6 of 15 three-pointers (40.0%). Pacific sank 31.6% of its field goals (18 of 57), but hit just 2 of 13 shots from 3-point range.

The Boxers gained a 38-32 rebounding edge and held a 17-7 margin on the offensive glass. Pacific also finished with an advantage at the free throw line, where the Boxers went 22 of 29 (75.9%), while the Bearcats were 9 of 15 (60.0%). 

Pacific also forced WU into 15 turnovers. The Boxers lost the ball just seven times.

The Bearcats will play at Whitworth University on Friday, Jan. 27. Game time in Walla Walla, Washington, is set for 6 p.m. (PST).