By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Led by Kylie Towry (Sr., G, Medford, OR/South Medford HS), who scored a carer-high 29 points, the Willamette University Bearcats almost knocked off traditional Northwest Conference power George Fox University in a women's basketball game at Cone Field House on Saturday, Dec. 2. The Bearcats were in front for significant stretches of the game, but trailed by five points several times in the final 3:19. Even so, a 3-pointer by Towry with seven seconds left cut the margin to just two points at 78-76.
Emily Spencer of GFU hit 1 of 2 free throws with five seconds remaining, and Britanny Kochenderfer (Jr., G, Klamath Falls, OR/Henley HS/Idaho State Univ.) of Willamette missed a 3-point shot at the buzzer, as the Bruins prevailed 79-76. George Fox moved to 4-2 overall, 2-0 in the NWC, while the Bearcats slipped to 4-3 on the season, 1-1 in the NWC.
Towry's previous scoring high was 27 points against California Institute of Technology on Nov. 21, 2014. She connected on a school-record nine 3-point shots in the win over Caltech.
Against the Bruins, Towry scored 22 of her 29 points in the first half. She finished the game 10 of 14 from the field, including 4 for 6 on 3-point shots. She was 5 for 8 at the free throw line, and registered a game-high five assists. Towry is now sixth on Willamette's all-time scoring list with 1,081 points. She moved past Natalie Marth, who scored 1,057 points from 1983-87.
Also for the Bearcats on Saturday, Mary Eckenrode (Sr., G, Higley, AZ/Highland HS) provided 13 points and made a trio of 3-points shots. Kochenderfer added 10 points, hauled down a game-high nine rebounds, and contribued four assists. Drew Farmer (So., PG, Brookings, OR/Brookings-Harbor HS) tallied nine points.
Tavin Healdings was GFU's leading scorer with 18 points. She went 7 for 7 on field goals (2 for 2 on 3-pointers) and grabbed five rebounds. Kylin Collman supplied 17 points and was 6 of 8 from the field, including 3 of 5 from behind the 3-point arc. Also in double figures were Kaitlin Jamieson with 13 points and Haylee Hutzler with 12 points.
GFU shot 53.7% for the game (29 of 54) and Willamette converted its field goals at a 50.0% clip (28 of 56). The Bearcats made 10 of 20 three-point shots, while the Bruins were 7 of 14 from long range. WU gained a 33-26 rebounding margin, including 13 offensive boards.
The Bruins gained a scoring edge at the free throw line, as GFU sank 14 of 22 free throws (63.6%), and WU hit 10 of 14 charity shots (71.4%). George Fox forced the Bearcats into 13 turnovers, while the Bruins lost the ball just six times. GFU held a 22-5 edge in points off turnovers, but Willamette owned a 19-4 margin in second-chance points.
Willamette trailed 10-6 after Headings sank a jumper with 6:45 remaining in the first quarter, but the Bearcats rode a 20-6 offensive wave over the rest of the quarter to take a 26-16 lead. WU opened the run with 11 unanswered points. The scoring string included a jumper by Eckenrode with 5:05 on the clock for an 11-10 advantage and a 3-pointer by Kochenderfer for a 17-10 edge at the 3:01 mark.
The scoring margin nearly flipped in the second quarter, as George Fox outscored the Bearcats 25-16 to pull within 42-41 at the break. Towry scored all 16 points for Willamette during the quarter. Headings led GFU's offensive charge with eight points.
After Towry hit a 3-pointer for WU to open the quarter, the Bruins answered with a 13-4 run that reduced the Bearcats' lead to 33-29 with 5:31 left. Hutzler, Headings and Collman each hit a 3-pointer during the run. A bit later, GFU pulled within 35-33 on a layup by Headings. The Bruins got as close as one point three times in the final 2:10, ending with a 3-pointer for Headings with 24 seconds remaining in the half.
The third quarter was highlighted by three ties and four lead changes. GFU tied the score twice before taking its first lead since the first quarter at 51-50 on a layup by Emily Holder with 3:41 on the clock. The teams were tied again at 55-55 after Headings hit the first of two free throws with 1:38 to go. Headings sank the second free throw to give GFU a one-point lead. Willamette scored the next five points on a 3-pointer from Eckenrode and two free throws by Kochenderfer for a 60-56 edge with nine second remaining. Spencer made 1 of 2 free throws for GFU with two seconds left.
Willamette led 62-57 early in the final quarter, but the Bruins scored nine consecutive points to take a 66-62 advantage at the 7:04 mark. A bit later, Willamette cut the lead to a single point at 68-67 on a jumper by Elizabeth Logsdon (So., F, McMinnville, OR/McMinnville HS). GFU scored the next four points and claimed a 72-67 lead on two free throws by Jamieson with 3:19 to go.
During the final three minutes, Willamette pulled within three points on three occasions. Each time GFU regained a five-point cushion. Towry's 3-pointer at the 0:07 mark reduced the margin to just two points at 78-76, but Spencer's free throw gave the Bruins their final margin. Although the Bearcats had to go the length of the floor in five seconds, Willamette still managed to create a decent 3-point attempt for Kochenderfer.
Willamette will host crosstown rival Corban University on Friday, Dec. 8. Game time at Cone Field House is slated for 6 p.m. (PST).