By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SPOKANE, Wash. -- Ashley Evans (Sr., PG, Canby, OR/Canby HS) led all scorers with 18 points on six 3-pointers, and Britanny Kochenderfer (Jr., G, Klamath Falls, OR/Henley HS/Idaho State Univ.) earned a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds, as Willamette University closed out the regular season with a 67-56 victory over Whitworth University on Saturday, Feb. 17. Willamette, already headed toward its first Northwest Conference Tournament since 2000-01, upped its overall record to 16-9 and moved to 12-4 in the NWC. Whitworth ended its season at 10-15, including 5-11 in the NWC.
Willamette has recorded four consecutive wins and is 6-1 in its last seven games. The Bearcats, who are the #3 seed for the NWC Tournament, will take on the #2 seed, Whitman College, on Thursday, Feb. 22 in Walla Walla, Washington. Game time is set for 6 p.m. (PST). In the other NWC semifinal game, George Fox, the regular season champion and #1 seed, will host Lewis & Clark College, the #4 seed, in Newberg, Oregon, on Thursday at 7 p.m. The NWC Championship game will be played on Saturday, Feb. 24 on the home court of the highest remaining seed.
The Bearcats hit 12 of 28 shots from 3-point range (42.9%) in Saturday's game against the Pirates. Evans led the way by draining 6 of 9 long-range attempts, and led all players with five assists. Kylie Towry (Sr., G, Medford, OR/South Medford HS), who scored 14 points for the Bearcats, put through three 3-point baskets, while Kochenderfer made a pair of 3-point shots.
Willamette's 12 three-pointers tied for seventh on the Bearcats' all-time list. The six trifectas by Evans in a single game tied for eighth all-time at Willamette. Towry advanced her Willamette career scoring record to 1,399 points and improved her career 3-point record to 287 baskets.
Camy Aguinaldo was Whitworth's top scorer with 14 points. She also contributed eight rebounds, four assists and a steal. Madison Moffat supplied the Pirates with 13 points and a team-high nine boards. Grace Douglas tacked on 10 points.
The Bearcats shot just 20.0% in the first quarter (3 of 15), but all three baskets were from behind the 3-point line. Whitworth made 6 of 12 field goals in the first quarter -- only one from 3-point range. After Mary Eckenrode (Sr., G, Higley, AZ/Highland HS) sank 1 of 2 free throws with 1:31 on the clock, Willamette held a 10-9 advantage. The Pirates closed the quarter with a layup and a jumper by Moffat to take a 13-10 lead.
Willamette connected on 18 of 38 field goals the rest of the way (47.4%), while outscoring the Pirates in each of the final three quarters. In the second period, the Bearcats led by as many as four points at 17-13 on a free throw by Towry. Whitworth rallied to take a 24-20 lead on a 3-pointer by Aguinaldo, before settling for a 26-25 lead at halftime.
At the start of the third quarter, Whitworth added a layup by Moffat and two 3-pointers by Erika Kuehn to build a 34-25 advantage. Willamette countered with an 11-3 run to reduce the deficit to 37-365 at the 5:50 mark. Willamette eventually tied the game a 39-39 on a 3-pointer by Evans. After Aguinaldo returned the lead to Whitworth on a layup, Evans responded with another 3-pointer to give the Bearcats a 42-41 lead. The Bearcats held a 49-45 edge at the end of the quarter.
Willamette was in front by a 51-47 margin with 8:39 remaining in the game. The Bearcats scored eight of the next 10 points, including five points by Towry and a 3-pointer by Kochendefer, to expand the lead to 59-49 with 5:209 left. The Pirates tallied four unanswered points to get as close as 59-53 on a layup by Aguinaldo with 4:22 to go, but the Pirates never got closer.
The Bearcats achieved a 38-30 rebounding edge. Both teams committed 14 turnovers, but Willamette held a 13-8 edge in points resulting from the turnovers. Willamette also owned an 11-0 advantage in second-chance points and a 13-4 margin in bench scoring.