By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
CLAREMONT, Calif. -- Willamette University trailed Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.) 37-18 at halftime on Tuesday, Nov. 26 at Roberts Pavilion, but the Bearcats outscored the Athenas, 19-11 in the third quarter to reduce the lead to 48-37. The Athenas pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 66-47 win that improved CMS to 3-0 on the season. Willamette's record moved to 4-2.
CMS is a member of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Athenas finished last season with a 24-3 overall record, including 15-1 in the SCIAC. In this week's D3hoops.com Top 25 Women's Poll, CMS received the most points for a team not in the top 25. Willamette competes in the Northwest Conference (NWC).
The Bearcats were led by Ava Kitchin (Fy., F, Redmond, OR/Redmond HS), who scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds to go along with two blocked shots and one steal. Sami Riggs (Fy., G, La Verne, CA/Bonita HS), playing just three miles from her hometown, added nine points and three boards.
Drew Farmer (Sr., PG, Brookings, OR/Brookings-Harbor HS) supplied seven points and three assists for Willamette. Ashlyn Ascuena-Mercil (Fy., F, Boise, ID/Timberline HS) tallied six points. Kassin Hopkins (Sr., G, Connell, WA/Connell HS/Bellevue College) and Madison Ballard (So., G, Monroe, OR/Monroe HS) each registered six rebounds for the Bearcats, with Ballard also earning five assists.
Lindsey Cleary led three CMS players in double figures. She scored 16 points and contributed eight rebounds. Kate Parrish produced 11 points and nine caroms for the Athenas. Maezelle Millan tacked on another 11 points, while achieving four rebounds, three assists and five steals.
The Athenas scored the game's first six points on layups by Millan, Parish and Lauren Longo. WU cut the margin to 6-3 before Claremont-Mudd-Scripps went on a 11-2 run for a 17-5 lead. The run began with 3-pointers by Cleary and Kelly Keene, plus a free throw by Kellie Okamura, before Ballard hit a layup for the Bearcats to stop the string of points. Two free throws by Gloria Bates and a basket by Parrish completed the CMS run. Willamette trailed 19-11 at the end of the first quarter.
Kitchin scored on a layup to give the Bearcats the first two points of the second period with 8:57 on the clock, reducing the Athenas' lead to six points. CMS answered with a 10-0 run over the next 3:45 to surge out to a 29-13 advantage. Willamette trailed by 14 points with 1:57 left in the half following a 3-pointer by Farmer. The Athenas added a layup by Parrish and a 3-pointer by Jacey Carter to increase the margin to 19 points at halftime.
The Bearcats, who shot just 28.0% (7 of 25) in the first half, improved to 53.8% (7 of 13) in the third quarter. Even so, CMS owned a 40-20 lead with 7:07 remaining in the quarter after Bates sank 1 of 2 free throws.
Willamette responded with a 6-0 run that included a 3-pointer by Amanda Carpenter (Jr., G, Beaverton, OR/Sunset HS) to get within 40-26, but the Athenas increased their lead to 48-27 with an 8-1 run of their own. The Bearcats scored the final 10 points of the quarter on the strength of four points each by Riggs and Ascuena-Mercil plus a jumper by Kitchin with nine seconds left.
Cleary opened the fourth quarter for the Athenas with a layup, two free throws, and another layup. Cleary's string of shots gave CMS a 54-37 lead. WU got as close as 56-42 on a 3-pointer by Riggs with 5:38 left, but the Athenas went on an 8-1 outburst for a 64-43 margin at the 2:47 mark.
For the game, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps shot 41.9% from the field (26 of 62), despite hitting just 26.7% of their shots (4 of 15) in the third quarter. Willamette finished with 35.3% shooting (18 of 51). Both teams struggled from 3-point range, where CMS converted 3 of 12 shots (25.0%) and the Bearcats converted 3 of 14 attempts (21.4%).
The Athenas registered a 41-38 rebounding margin, with WU earning a 21-19 edge on the glass in the second half. CMS forced Willamette into 22 turnovers, while the Athenas lost the ball 13 times.
Willamette will take on California Institute of Technology on Wednesday, Nov. 26 in Pasadena, California. Game time is scheduled for 2 p.m. (PST).