Willamette’s men’s and women’s basketball teams celebrated senior night on Saturday, Feb. 16. This was the last game of the season for seniors Jordan Jenkins, Trent Callan, Caleb Roberts, CJ Walker and Jeff Sutherland. On the women’s team, Kali Vickery and Britanny Kochenderfer are the only seniors. Both teams won their senior night games, but lost their previous games on Friday. WU played Georoge Fox University (GFU) on Friday, Feb. 15 at the Wheeler Sports Complex in Newberg, OR. On Saturday, Feb. 16, the Bearcats played against Lewis & Clark College (L&C) at Cone Field House in Salem, OR.
On Feb. 15, the men’s basketball team had an extremely close game against GFU. The Bearcats took an early lead of 12-2 with the help of sophomore Justus Eaglesmith, Jenkins and first-year Jonathan Watts. The Bruins rallied to narrow WU’s lead to 20-16. GFU took the lead before the half with a 15-5 surge that left the score at 48-42.
WU opened up the second half with a noteworthy 18-2 run to take a 60-52 lead. The Bearcats pushed and kept their lead for a majority of the fourth quarter, but a jumper and pair of free throws by GFU with 0:33 remaining led to a tie of 89-89. With 5.5 seconds left on the clock, Jenkins made a jumper and gave WU a two-point lead. However, GFU completed a two-point play, scoring on two free throw attempts with 0.7 seconds left on the clock, tying the score. Ryan Lacey of GFU made a free throw to give GFU the lead once again. First-year Dylan Street passed the ball to Jenkins whose shot touched the rim but fell out, giving the win to GFU, 92-91.
The women’s team also played GFU on Feb. 15. GFU took a substantial lead before the second quarter with a 13-3 run, giving them a large lead of 28-13. In the second quarter, the Bruins had a 30-3 run against WU, putting them away in the lead with a score of 45-13 with 4:00 remaining in the half. Even though the Bearcats outscored GFU for the rest of the quarter, the Bruins held a strong lead of 51-22 at the half. Junior Kassin Hopkins shot a three-pointer to close out the half. Hopkins led WU in scoring with 14 points. She also led the Bearcats with four rebounds. Kochenderfer finished the game with seven points and three rebounds. The Bearcats were unable to come back from the deficit in the first half and lost to GFU 85-44.
The men’s basketball team beat L&C on senior night. The Bearcats controlled the game early on with a 9-4 advantage, just over four minutes into the quarter. The Pioneers countered with a 13-6 run to take a 17-15 lead. Sophomore Ben Sutton scored on a jumper to tie the game. The teams tied four more times before WU took the lead, 33-28. Eaglesmith made a three-point shot leading to a 41-38 lead at halftime. The second half began with a WU 13-5 run, with Jenkins accounting for six of those points, which built a 54-43 advantage. The Bearcats held a margin of at least seven points for the rest of the game. The Pioneers tried to rally but it wasn’t enough. WU took the win, 92-84.
The women’s team also won their game against L&C on senior night. WU started the game off well with a 9-0 lead. By the end of the quarter, WU had an edge of 18-12. The Pioneers didn’t catch up to the Bearcats for the rest of the game. The Bearcats built a 29-16 lead with the help of Kochenderfer, junior Elizabeth Logsdon, sophomore Amanda Carpenter and first-year Madison Ballard. By the end of the second half, the score was 34-22. WU continued to lead on a jump shot by first-year Morgan Yumane with 2:16 in the third quarter. A three-point play by junior Drew Farmer with 15 seconds left on the clock gave WU a 50-30 lead through the last quarter. WU’s women’s basketball team closed out the game 67-49 and took home a win in the final game of the season.
The Bearcats women’s basketball team concluded the season with an 11-14 overall record and a 6-10 record in the Northwest Conference (NWC). They finished in seventh place, below Pacific Lutheran. The Bearcats men’s basketball team concluded their season with a 9-16 overall record, going 6-10 in the NWC. They finished in sixth place, behind George Fox. George Fox took the NWC title for women’s basketball and Whitman took the title for the men’s league.