Bearcats Rally from 14-Point 4th-Quarter Deficit to Down Linfield in OT, 76-70

Kylie Towry (Sr., G, Medford, OR/South Medford HS)
Kylie Towry (Sr., G, Medford, OR/South Medford HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

McMINNVILLE, Ore. -- Ashley Evans (Sr., PG, Canby, OR/Canby HS) broke a 68-68 tie with 2:36 left in overtime by hitting a 3-pointer from the right elbow and Willamette went on to defeat Linfield College, 76-70, in a Northwest Conference game on Wednesday, Jan. 3. The Bearcats rallied from a 14-point deficit early in the fourth quarter. Willamette improved to 6-6 on the season, 2-1 in the NWC, while the Wildcats fell to 5-7 overall, 1-2 in the NWC.

Kylie Towry (Sr., G, Medford, OR/South Medford HS) led all players with 28 points and hit 14 of 14 free throws during the game. Her 14 made free throws set a Willamette single game record. In addition, she moved up from fifth on WU's all-time scoring list into third place with 1,165 points. Molly Danielson topped Linfield with 14 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.

Linfield earned the first two points of the final period for a 57-43 lead, but the Bearcats countered with a 16-2 run that included three free throws by Towry after she was fouled on a 3-point shot with 5:25 left. WU added seven more free throws to complete the run. Jada Leonard (Fr., G, Kent, WA/Kentlake HS) hit the last two free throws with 3:56 remaining for a 59-59 tie.

Four throws by Paige Graham gave Linfield a 63-59 lead, and the Wildcats were in front 66-62 after Graham sank a 3-pointer4 from the right corner with 2:12 left. Willamette cut the margin to two points on a seven-foot, turn-around jumper on the baseline by Elizabeth Logsdon (So., F, McMinnville, OR/McMinnville HS) at the 1:05 mark, an then tied the game at 66-66 on two free throws by Towry with 11.6 seconds to go.

The Wildcats called timeout and advanced the ball to the front court. Linfield took two shots in the closing seconds. After rebounding the first shot, Danielson took a three-foot jumper with about two seconds remaining. The ball looked headed for the net, but it bounced of the rim, and then bounced again, before going off the right edge. Willamette grabbed the rebound as time expired.

Willamete never trailed during the overtime session. Logsdon scored the first points on an inside move and layup with 3:57 left. Linfield tied the score, but the 3-pointer by Evans put the Bearcats back in front. The Wildcats responded with a layup by Bailey McDevitt as the clock reached 1:28 to pull within 71-70.

Britanny Kochenderfer (Jr., G, Klamath Falls, OR/Henley HS/Idaho State Univ.) put in a layup for WU with 32.8 seconds remaining to increase the lead to 73-70. Towry added two free throws with 22.7 seconds to go and Drew Farmer (Jr., PG, Brookings, OR/Brookings-Harbor HS) made the second of two free throws with 7.9 seconds left to complete the scoring.

"This was a great night for our program," Willamette Head Coach Peg Swadener said. "To win in overtime on the road in this conference is a great accomplishment. I was really proud of our fight to climb back into the game after being 14 down and of our composure down the stretch."

In addition to scoring 28 points, Towry earned five rebounds and three steals. She was joined in double figures by Evans, who finished with 10 points and a game-high three 3-point baskets. Kochenderfer led the Bearcats with 11 rebounds to go along with six points and three assists. Farmer registered six points, three assists and three steals.

Danielson was one of five players with double-digit scoring for Linfield. Graham, Oleson and McDevitt each scored 11 points, while Audrey McMillan contributed 10 points. The Wildcats gained a 51-33 rebounding edge, but both teams grabbed 15 ponts after the end of the third period. WU, made 2 of 16 shots (12.5%) in the third quarter, hit 55.6% from the floor (5 of 9) during the fourth quarter. The Bearcats were 21 of 63 overall (33.3%), but hit 28 of 35 free throws (80.0%).

The Wildcats were 23 of 62 on field goals overall (37.1%), but made only 3 of 17 shots in the fourth quarter (17.6%). Linfield committed 19 turnovers, while the Bearcats lost the ball just six times.

Willamette took a 2-0 lead before the opening tipoff, as Towry sank two technical free throws because Linfield's shot clock buzzer was not working. The Bearcats fell behind 8-2 after Kory Oleson and Erin Burn each hit a 3-pointer and McMillan scored on a short jumper.

The Bearcats rallied to take a 9-8 lead with 5:23 left in the first quarter after back-to-back scores by Kochenderfer on a fast-break layup and a driving layup.

Linfield scored the next five points, including a layup and two foul shots by Graham, to claim a 13-9 advantage. Willamette pulled within one point twice later in the quarter, but the Wildcats held an 18-14 lead after one period.

A 3-pointer by Towry with 8:03 to go in the half pulled WU within 20-19. The teams stayed close until halftime.

The Bearcats earned the largest lead of the second quarter at 34-31 after a jumper by Towry broke a tie and Drew Farmer (Jr., PG, Brookings, OR/Brookings-Harbor HS) added a free throw at the 2:04 mark. Willamette led 36-35 following a driving layup by Farmer with 1:04 left, but Linfield used a layup by Cameron Reuter and a basket by Danielson with three seconds on the clock to take a 39-36 halftime lead.

Linfield extended its run to 12-0 with the first eight points of the second half, ending with four points from Danielson. Willamette recorded its first points of the second half on a basket from the right side by Towry, pulling the Bearcats within 47-38 with 5:45 remaining in the third quarter. After the Bearcats cut the margin to 48-40, Danielson converted a traditional three-point play to put Linfield up 51-40. The Wildcats were in front 55-43 entering the fourth quarter.

Willamette will host University of Puget Sound at Cone Field House on Saturday, Jan. 6. Game time is scheduled for 4 p.m. (PST).