Second Half Shooting Hinders Bearcats in Loss to NAIA's No. 5-Carroll (Mont.), 64-31

Amanda Carpenter (Grad., G, Beaverton, OR/Sunset HS)
Amanda Carpenter (Grad., G, Beaverton, OR/Sunset HS)

Written by Mark Colachico, Contributing Writer

SALEM, Ore. – The Willamette University women's basketball team kicked off the New Year against the NAIA's No. 5-ranked Carroll College (Mont.). Despite having to wait a few days before tipping off due to travel issues for the visiting Saints, poor shooting in the second half cost the Bearcats in a hard-fought 64-31 loss Saturday, Jan. 1, inside Cone Field House.

The host Bearcats would go toe-to-toe with the visiting Saints over the opening two quarters but could not overcome a combined 16% (3-for-19) shooting from the field in the second half. Trailing by a mere four points (24-20) at halftime, Willamette watched Carroll use an early 9-0 run combined with a 1-of-10 showing from the field in the third quarter. Unfortunately, the Bearcats could not turn things around in their final non-conference game of the season falling to their nationally ranked opponent.

Amanda Carpenter (Grad., G, Beaverton, OR/Sunset HS) came out of the gates on fire hitting the game's first two shots from behind the three-point line before ending the game as Willamette's leading scorer with nine points. Megan River (So., G, Tumwater, WA/A.G. West Black Hills HS) came off the Bearcats' bench to provide seven points, while Carolyn Ho (So., G, Parker, CO/Ponderosa HS) and Ashlyn Ascuena-Mercil (Jr., F, Boise, ID/Timberline HS) added six and five points, respectively. On the boards, Ashley Collins (So., P, Chino Hills, CA/Chino Hills HS) grabbed a team-high five rebounds to go along with a game-high two blocked shots by Ho.

As mentioned previously, Carpenter started the game's scoring with back-to-back three-pointers in the opening 90 seconds before Carroll scored six unanswered points over a span of nearly three minutes to tie the game at 6-6 with 6:13 on the clock. Both teams would trade buckets over the next two-plus minutes that included a pair of lay-ups by Ho. With the game tied at 10-all, Carroll would get the final basket of the first quarter and took a 12-10 lead into the first break.

The second quarter began with Carroll jumping out to a 15-10 lead on a three-pointer by Kyle Olson in the first two minutes. Willamette fought back getting within two points on three separate occasions that included a 22-20 deficit on a lay-in by River with 1:22 on the clock. Carroll once again got the final points of the opening half, as Christine Denny converted a turnover into points to equal the visiting Saints point total from the first quarter resulting in a 24-20 lead for Carroll at halftime.

Coming out of the locker room, Carroll would step up its defensive pressure and used a 9-0 run over a two-minute and 45-second span resulting in a 33-20 lead with 7:15 on the clock. Throughout the third quarter, Willamette struggled to find consistent shooting and slowly watched the visiting Saints increase their lead to 20 points (45-25) at the end of the third period.

The fourth and final quarter would be similar to the previous 10 minutes, as Carroll continued to increase its lead and the host Bearcats still struggled from the field. Carroll grabbed a game-high 34-point lead (64-30) on a Kamden Hilborn fast break lay-in with 2:44 left, while Willamette scored the game's final points on a free throw by River that resulted in the 64-31 final score.

Carroll was led offensively by Jamie Pickens with a game-high 17 points, while Madeline Gertz added 13 points and a game-high nine rebounds off the Saints' bench. Olson also scored in double figures for Carroll, as she provided 10 points off the bench to go along with a game-high eight assists by Hilborn.

With today's result, Willamette falls to 6-5 on the season. Meanwhile, Carroll pushes its winning streak to seven games improving to 14-2 overall.

Willamette returns to the court on Friday, Jan. 7, when the Bearcats travel north to restart Northwest Conference play against the University of Puget Sound (Wash.) beginning at 6 p.m. PST in Tacoma, Washington.