Kochenderfer Scores 22, Towry Adds 21, as Bearcats Hold Off Linfield, 66-63

Britanny Kochenderfer (Jr., G, Klamath Falls, OR/Henley HS/Idaho State Univ.)
Britanny Kochenderfer (Jr., G, Klamath Falls, OR/Henley HS/Idaho State Univ.)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SALEM, Ore. -- Britanny Kochenderfer (Jr., G, Klamath Falls, OR/Henley HS/Idaho State Univ.) scored a career-high 22 points and Kylie Towry (Sr., G, Medford, OR/South Medford HS) contributed 21 points, as the Willamette University Bearcats held off Linfield College for a 66-63 win in Northwest Conference women's basketball action on Tuesday, Jan. 30. The victory at Cone Field House allowed the Bearcats to sweep the season series with two wins, while improving to 12-8 overall and to 8-3 in the NWC. Linfield slipped to 9-11 on the season, 4-7 in the NWC.

Willamette led for most of the game and held a 58-49 advantage following a 3-pointer by Kochenderfer with 5:28 left. The Wildcats scored the next six points to pull within 58-55 on a 3-pointer by Bailey McDevitt with 4:20 on the clock. Linfield also moved within three points at 61-58 with 1:37 and again at 63-60 with 27 seconds remaining on a layup by Molly Danielson. Willamette missed two free throws with 26 seconds left, but Kory Oleson failed on a 3-pointer for the Wildcats with 20 seconds to go. Linfield kept possession, but McDevitt lost the ball out of bounds at the 17-second mark.

Towry sank 1 of 2 free throws with 15 seconds remaining to give WU a 64-60 advantage. Paige Graham connected on a 3-pointer for Linfield with nine seconds to go, cutting the lead to 64-63, but Towry put through two free throws with eight seconds left. She was 9 for 11 at the line overall. McDevitt misssed a long 3-point attempt with two seconds on the clock.

The Bearcats hit 11 of 28 three-point shots (39.3%), led by Kochenderfer, who went 6 for 7. Kochenderfer's six 3-pointers tied her for eighth on Willamette's single game list. On Tuesday, Ashley Evans (Sr., PG, Canby, OR/Canby HS) added three 3-pointers and Towry hit two three's. Towry and Evans are tied for WU's single game record of nine 3-pointers, which Towry set against California Institute of Technology on Nov. 21, 2014 and Evans matched against Warner Pacific College on Nov. 15, 2016.

Towry's overall total of 21 points in Tuesday's game brought her within a single point of Willamette's career scoring record. Towry has scored 1,308 points. Jenny Joseph, who played for the Bearcats from 1993-94 through 1996-97, is the record holder with 1,309 points. Towry is only the second Willamette women's basketball player to reach the 1,300 mark.

Against the Wildcats, Towry also grabbed seven rebounds and provided five assists, while blocking one shot and earning one steal. She is now seventh on the WU career list with 245 assists. She moved past Tracy Thom, who registered 242 assists from 1984-88.

Willamette is off to its best season since 2000-01, when the Bearcats went 17-8 overall and 12-4 in the NWC. The Bearcats have their most conference wins since going 6-10 in 2001-02.

Kochenderfer and Towry were the only Bearcats in double figures against Linfield. Evans finished with nine points and four assists. Elizabeth Logsdon (So., F, McMinnville, OR/McMinnville HS) and Celine Gregoire (Sr./Jr., P, Woodburn, OR/ Woodburn Academy) each tied Towry for team-high honors with seven rebounds. Gregoire also scored six points.

Danielson led Linfield with 15 points and hit 7 of 10 field goal attempts. She also gathered in a game-high eight boards. Oleson scored 12 points and produced six rebounds. Jade Everage supplied the Wildcats with 10 points.

The teams were tied 8-8 following a layup by Everage with 4:23 left in the first quarter. Willamette scored the next seven points, ending with a 3-pointer by Towry, for a 15-8 lead. After Danielson put in a jumper for Linfield, Evans tacked on a 3-pointer, as the Bearcats grabbed an 18-10 advantage. The margin reached 20-10 on a layup by Towry with 1:17 to go.

Linfield reduced the deficit to six points twice in the first two minutes of the second quarter, but WU returned to a double-digit edge at 29-19 with 4:09 remaining on a 3-pointer by Kochenderfer. The Bearcats were in front 33-21 after a layup from Towry at the 2:25 mark. Linfield recorded the final five points of the half, including an old-fashioned 3-point play by Oleson with three seconds remaining. WU led 33-26 at the break.

Willamette earned the first seven points of the third quarter on a jumper and a 3-pointer by Kochenderfer, plus a layup by Mary Eckenrode (Sr., G, Higley, AZ/Highland HS). The run increased WU's advantage to 40-26. Linfield chipped away at the lead until it was reduced to 43-36 on a layup by Paige Graham with 4:02 left.

A bit later, Willamette's lead was 52-40 after Evans completed a 5-0 run with a 3-point basket with 2:08 to go. Linfield ended the quarter with five unanswered points on a jumper by Danielson and a 3-pointer by Audrey McMillan.

With 8:43 left in the game, Linfield reduced the margin to 52-47 on a jumper by Oleson. Willamette tacked on a 3-pointer by Kochenderfer with 7:19 left, but Danielson scored on a jumper to pull Linfield within 55-49. Kochenderfer followed with another 3-pointer at the 5:28 mark to give the Bearcats a nine-point cushion before Linfield's final rally.

For the game, Willamette shot 36.8% on field goals (21 of 57). The Bearcats made 13 of 21 free throws (61.9%), but hit just 6 for 12 in the final 3:08, including Towry's two free throws with eight seconds left. Linfield connected on 26 of 55 shots (47.3%), including 6 of 16 on 3-pointers (37.5%). The Wildcats sank 5 of 7 free throws.

Linfield earned a 36-32 rebounding edge, but WU turned a slim 9-8 margin in offensive boards into a 13-8  lead in second-chance points. Willamette also caused Linfield to commit 18 turnovers, while the Bearcats lost the ball only nine times. WU outscored Linfield 18-11 in points off turnovers.

The Bearcats will play at University of Puget Sound in another Northwest Conference game on Friday, Feb. 2. Tipoff in Tacoma, Washington, is slated for 6 p.m. (PST).