Willamette Rallies in Fourth Quarter, but Regals Hold on for 62-59 Victory

Ava Kitchin releases a hook shot.
Ava Kitchin (So., F, Redmond, OR/Redmond HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Willamette University rallied from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to pull within a single point with 6.5 seconds remaining, but California Lutheran University held on to defeat the Bearcats, 62-59, in a non-conference women's basketball game on Tuesday, Nov. 23. The Regals, who were playing their regular season opener, moved to 1-0, while Willamette slipped to 3-3.

The Bearcats trailed 60-50 with 4:00 left, but Willamette scored 10 unanswered points to reduce the margin to 60-58 following two free throws by Claire Bonnet (Jr., G, Boise, ID/Boise HS) with 1:38 on the clock.

Willamette had several chances to tie or take the lead. Sami Riggs (Jr., G, La Verne, CA/Bonita HS) missed on a layup that rolled off the rim with 37 seconds to go. With 17 seconds left, the Regals were called for an offensive foul near midcourt and WU regained possession.

Ashlyn Ascuena-Mercil (Jr., F, Boise, ID/Timberline HS) was fouled after taking a 3-point shot with 6.5 seconds left. The officials ruled the foul was after the shot, so Ascuena-Mercil received two free throws. She made the first free throw to pull WU within 60-59. The second shot rolled off the rim, leading to a held ball.

The Bearcats retained possession. Riggs missed a contested layup and the Regals grabbed the rebound. Willamette, which only had three fouls at that point, committed two fouls in the closing seconds.

Alyssa Maxey sank two free throws to give CLU a 62-59 lead with 0.6 to play. WU called timeout and advanced the ball to the frontcourt. The in-bounds pass was slightly deflected and Amanda Carpenter (Grad., G, Beaverton, OR/Sunset HS) missed a 3-point shot just after time expired.

Ava Kitchin (So., F, Redmond, OR/Redmond HS) provided the Bearcats with 13 points, secured five rebounds, and blocked two shots. Carolyn Ho (So., G, Parker, CO/Ponderosa HS) tacked on 11 points, six boards, three steals, and two assists. Carpenter finished with nine points and a team-high three assists. Ascuena-Mercil also scored nine points. CarolAnn Edwards (So., F, Spokane, WA/University HS) grabbed six rebounds and Riggs achieved three steals.

For California Lutheran, Patil Yaacoubian scored a game-high 16 points to go with three assists. She was 4 for 6 on 3-points shots. Cameron Mallory supplied 11 points and three assists for the Regals, while Grace Godines scored 10 points and hauled down six boards. Aliya DiMuro and Danielle Morgan each finished with seven rebounds. Mackenzy Iwahashi was credited with seven points, three rebounds, three steals, three assists, and two blocked shots.

The Regals recorded the first seven points of the game, but the Bearcats led 13-11 at the end of the opening quarter. Along the way, WU pulled within 7-5 on a pair of free throws by Megan River (So., G, Tumwater, WA/A.G. West Black Hills HS) and cut the deficit to 9-8 on a 3-pointer by Carpenter at the 2:38 mark. The Bearcats took a 10-9 lead on a jumper by Riggs with 1:52 to go. Godines scored for CLU to give the Regals an 11-10 advantage, but Ho connected on a 3-pointer for Willamette with 13 seconds left.

A turnover by the Regals in the closing seconds of the first quarter led to a basket by Willamette that went through just after time expired. A similar situation happened at the end of the second quarter, with Riggs stealing the ball in the backcourt and scoring just after the period ended. California Lutheran led 29-27 at halftime.

Willamette outscored CLU 9-3 in the first 5:36 of the third quarter to move in front 36-32. The Regals tallied the next eight points for a 40-36 margin at the 3:34 mark. A bit later, back-to-back 3-pointers by Yaacoubian and Godines gave the Regals a 48-38 lead. CLU held a 48-41 edge entering the fourth quarter.

The Bearcats shot 35.4% for the game (17 of 48), including 7 of 16 on 3-pointers (43.8%). Willamette hit 18 of 26 free throws (69.2%). California Lutheran shot 32.4% (22 of 68) and made 9 of 28 three-pointers. The Regals were 9 for 11 on free throws (81.8%) and held a 42-37 rebounding margin with a 17-9 advantage in offensive boards.

Up next for Willamette is a game against host Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the David Wells Classic on Friday, Nov. 26. Game time in Claremont, California, is set for 3:30 p.m. (PST). The Bearcats will close out their five-game road trip by taking on Pomona-Pitzer (Calif.) on Saturday, Nov. 27 on the CMS campus at 1:30 p.m.