By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University held Multnomah University to 34.3% shooting, including 16.7% on 3-pointers, as the Bearcats defeated the Lions, 73-66, in the regular season opener for both teams on Monday, Nov. 8 at Cone Field House. The Bearcats also blocked five shots on their way to starting the year at 1-0. Multnomah fell to 0-1.
Multnomah connected on just 23 of 67 field goals, while hitting only 3 of 18 shots from 3-point range. Willamette shot 46.3% from the field (25 of 54) and made 3 of 10 three-point attempts.
Willamette owned a 56-47 scoring edge after three quarters, but the Lions pulled within 66-64 on a layup by Dalila Rincan with 1:07 left. The Bearcats outscored Multnomah 7-2 in the final 49 seconds by hitting 7 of 8 free throws to clinch the win.
"I'm really proud of this team and how composed they were down the stretch," Willamette Head Women's Basketball Coach Peg Swadedner said. "After having not played for a year, I was concerned about our ability to play through mistakes, but we showed our grit and resilience tonight. It's fun to see that Bearcat mentality again."
Sami Riggs (Jr., G, La Verne, CA/Bonita HS) led Willamette with 17 points to go along with seven rebounds, while Ava Kitchin (So., F, Redmond, OR/Redmond HS) contributed 15 points and a team-high nine boards. Carolyn Ho (So., G, Parker, CO/Ponderosa HS) tacked on 11 points and three steals. Amanda Carpenter (Grad., G, Beaverton, OR/Sunset HS) finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Rincan topped the Lions with 22 points. Shaila Mays scored 14 points and grabbed seven boards. Alaygza Portis led all players with 11 rebounds and provided MU with seven points.
Willamette extended its lead to 10 points at 61-51 on a fast-break layup by Ho with 7:21 left in the fourth quarter. Later, the Bearcat took a 66-58 advantage with 2:33 to go after Kitchin made 1 of 2 free throws.
The Lions started to rally when Mays sank 1 of 2 free throws nine seconds later. A few seconds after Willamette rebounded the second free throw, Mays stole the ball and scored on a fast-break at the 2:11 mark. She was fouled on the play and converted the free throw to cut the Bearcats' lead to 66-62. Both teams committed a turnover before Rincan added a layup with 1:07 remaining to reduce the margin to two points.
Kitchin was fouled with 49 seconds remaining and went 2 for 2 at the line to give WU a 68-64 lead. Carpenter added two more free throws with 22 seconds left for a six-point edge. Portis sank 1 of 2 free throws with 15 seconds on the clock, and Kitchen went 1 of 2 at the line one second later, leaving Willamette in front 71-65.
Rincan had a chance to reduce the lead to three points when she was fouled on a missed 3-point shot with five seconds to play, but she converted just 1 of 3 free throws. Morgan Yamane (Sr., F, Moses Lake, WA/Moses Lake HS) hit 1 of 2 free throws for Willamette with four seconds left.
In the first quarter, the Bearcats surged out to an 8-2 lead with 7:24 remaining following a traditional three-point play by Ho. Multnomah trailed by just two points, 16-14, as the clock reached 3:43. Kitchin tallied the next three points for Willamette, scoring on a layup and later hitting 1 of 2 free throws. MU pulled within 19-16 after a jumper at the 1:07 mark by Clare Faber. Neither team scored during the final minute of the quarter.
Multnomah tied the score at 21-21 on a 3-point basket by Elise Graham with 8:22 to go in the half. A bit later, Willamette broke a 23-23 tie with a 5-0 run that included a jumper by Collins and a 3-pointer by Ashlyn Ascuena-Mercil (Jr., F, Boise, ID/Timberline HS). The Lions countered with a 10-0 run for a 33-28 lead with 2:03 to play. Willamette tied the game at 35-35 on another 3-point basket by Ascuna-Mercil at the 36-second mark, but Rincan scored on a jump shot with one second left.
WU trailed 39-35 early in the third quarter before rallying with a 13-2 run to grab a 48-41 advantage at the 5:24 mark. The Bearcat led by 11 points at 56-45 following a jumper by Edwards with 1:43 remaining. Rincan provided Multnomah with a driving layup for the final score of the quarter, leaving WU with a 56-47 margin.
The Bearcats finished the game with a 43-36 advantage on rebounds and a 5-2 edge in blocked shots. Willamette also led 7-5 in steals. Multnomah hit 17 of 23 free throws (73.9%), while Willamette sank 20 of 33 free throws (60.6%).
Up next for the Bearcats is a game against Schreiner University (Texas) on Friday, Nov. 12 at Cone Field House. Game time is set for 6 p.m. (PST).