By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
McMINVILLE, Ore. -- Linfield College outscored Willamette University, 20-12, in the fourth quarter to pull away from a 45-45 tie and defeat the visiting Bearcats, 65-57, on Saturday, Feb. 18 at Ted Wilson Gymnasium. The Wildcats concluded the year at 11-14 overall, 5-11 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette ended its season at 12-13 overall, 5-11 in the NWC.
Linfield's top scorer was Riley Graham with 13 points. Paige Graham finished with nine points. The Wildcats earned a 34-30 rebounding margin, led by Quincey Gibson with nine boards. Gibson also contributed nine points.
Willamette was led by a double-double from Alex Wert (Sr., F, Spokane, WA/St. George's HS). She scored a career-high 15 points and hauled down 10 rebounds in her final game as a Bearcat. She ended her career with 449 rebounds, good for 10th on WU's all-time list.
Ashley Evans (Jr., PG, Canby, OR/Canby HS) added 11 points and three assists. Kylie Towry (Sr./Jr., G, Medford, OR/South Medford HS) scored five points to conclude her career with 964 points. She is ninth on Willamette's career list.
Linfield surged out to a 17-3 lead in the first quarter. The opening run included a trio of 3-point baskets. The Bearcats were 2 of 15 on field goals (13.3%) during the quarter. The Wildcats took a 19-7 lead into the second quarter. Wert scored five of WU's seven points.
The Bearcats put together their own offensive outburst as the start of the second period. Willamette registered the first nine points of the quarter, including a 3-pointer and a pull-up jumper by Evans. After Dani Krier scored on two free throws at the 6:40 mark, Evans added a 3-pointer for the Bearcats to cut Linfield's lead to 21-19.
A 6-2 run by the Wildcats increased the margin to 27-21. Linfield also led 29-23, but WU ended the half with a 5-0 run on a short jumper off the glass by Celine Gregoire (Jr./So., P, Woodburn, OR/ Woodburn Academy) with 25 seconds left and a 3-point basket by Sarah Heinly (Fr., G, Bend, OR/Summit HS) with two seconds to go. The Wildcats were in front 29-28 at the break.
The teams stayed close in the third quarter. Willamette took its first lead of the game at 32-31 on a layup by Towry at the 7:24 mark. The Bearcats also led 36-35 following a basket from Marisa Hamiltokn with 5:33 on the clock.
Linfield scored the next seve points to take a 42-36 lead on a layup by Riley Graham. WU closed the quarter with a 9-3 run. A 3-pointer by Evans with 10 seconds left tied the score at 45-45.
Both teams played great on defense at the start of the fourth quarter. The first point was a free throw by Krier with 7:53 remaining. Paige Graham added a layup at the 6:27 mark. Linfield opened the quarter with an 11-0 run.
Willamette tallied its first basket of the quarter with 2:27 left on a layup by Gregoire to cut the lead to 56-47. A bit later, WU pulled within 58-50 on a rebound, layup and foul shot by Wert.
The Wildcats scored five of the next seven points and held a 63-52 advantage with 33.7 seconds to go. Willamette got as close a 64-57 with 12.6 seconds left on two free throws by Wert.
Linfield connected on 21 of 43 shots during the game (48.8) and made 4 of 12 three-pointers. Willamette hit 35.5% of its shots (21 of 60). The Bearcats were 6 of 21 (28.6%) from 3-point range. The Wildcats committed 11 turnovers, while Willamette lost the ball just eight times.