By Jarin Kobashigawa
On Friday, the Bearcats traveled to Sherwood Athletic Center and beat Whitman University, giving them their third loss of the season, 62-55. Junior Britany Kochenderfer led the way for Willamette, scoring a career-high 24 points, she was 3-for-3 from the three-point line and 9-for-12 shooting field goals. Additionally, Kochenderfer had four rebounds, three steals, one assist and one blocked shot. The Bearcats scored the first four points of the game, and held a steady lead throughout the quarter.
Heading into the second quarter the Bearcats led 19-14. Beginning the 2nd quarter, the Bearcats went on a 5-0 run and increased their lead by the end of the quarter, 34-22. Later in the third quarter, the Blues reduced the lead by going on an 11-3 run, making the score 46-41.
The Bearcats bounced back to increase their lead once more, ending the third quarter at 51-41. Similarly, in the fourth quarter, the Blues cut the margin by going on an 11-1 run, bringing them within five points of Willamette. A Blues player swished a three-pointer with 33 seconds remaining, and the score was 60-55. Kochenderfer made the last points of the game with two free throws to seal the win. Besides Kochenderfer, senior Kylie Towry had a great game, scoring 17 points along with eight rebounds and two steals. Senior Ashley Evans also contributed with eight points and five assists while First year Jada Leonard finished with seven points and seven boards.
On Saturday, the Bearcats played their last NWC regular season game against Whitworth University and toppled them 67-56, with the help of Evans who scored 18 points on six three-pointers. Kochenderfer contributed to the win with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Towry also had 14 points which consisted of three 3-pointers.
In the first quarter the Bearcats struggled to make a basket but sunk three three-pointers and a made free throw by senior Mary Eckenrode to hold a marginal lead. They fell behind by a three pointer seconds before the first quarter ended, but came back to take the lead by four in the first minute of the second quarter. Throughout the second and third quarters Whitworth and Willamette exchanged leads multiple times. It was the Bearcats who came out on top at the end of the third quarter and holding a four-point lead, 49-45. With 4:22 left in the game the Pirates closed in within six points of the Bearcats, 59-53, but it would be the closest they would get for the remainder of the game. The Bearcats improved to 16-9 overall and 12-4 in the NWC. Whitworth ended at 10-5 overall and 5-11 in the NWC. The NWC conference tournament will begin on February 22, George Fox University, the number one seed and NWC regular season champion, will face Lewis & Clark College. This will be Willamette’s first NWC Tournament appearance since 2000-01. The Bearcats will face number two seed Whitman in Walla Walla, Washington on Feb. 22. The game is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m (PST).