By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Elyse Waldal (Jr., F, Snohomish, WA/Glacier Peak HS/Linfield University) hit a 3-pointer from the right corner as the buzzer sounded, sending Willamette University to a 50-47 victory over Pacific University in a Northwest Conference women's basketball game on Tuesday, Feb. 6 at Cone Field House. With the win, Willamette remained in first place in the NWC at 11-2. The Bearcats are 14-8 and have clinched a winning record for the fourth time since 2017-18.
Pacific fell to 13-8 on the season. The Boxers dropped to 9-4 in the NWC, one-half game behind the University of Puget Sound, which holds second place at 9-3.
Willamette will take on Puget Sound in the Bearcats' next game on Saturday, Feb. 10 at Cone Field House. Tipoff is at 4 p.m. PST.
Waldal's 3-pointer ended the second close battle of the season between the Bearcats and the Boxers. In the first meeting at Pacific on Jan. 9, the Boxers won in two overtimes, 75-64. During that game, Rilee Price of Pacific hit a 3-pointer with three seconds left in regulation to force overtime, and she added a three-pointer from 26 feet with two seconds to play in the first overtime to send the game into a second extra session.
On Tuesday, Price fouled out with 2:05 left. Megan River (Sr., G, Tumwater, WA/A.G. West Black Hills HS) hit 1 of 2 free throws after Price's fifth foul to give WU a 44-40 lead. Brilie Kovaloff made a jumper for Pacific, and then Carolyn Ho (Sr., G, Parker, CO/Ponderosa HS) added a free throw for the Bearcats with 1:10 on the clock for a 45-42 lead.
Alexis Intong from Pacific cut the margin to 45-44 when she put in a layup with 16 seconds to play. One second later, Ho was fouled and made both free throws, as WU claimed a 47-44 advantage. Kovaloff hit a 3-point shot with 10 seconds to go, tying the game at 47-47. Willamette called a timeout and advanced the ball.
Waldal released her game-winning shot from the right corner with about one-half second remaining. The ball went through the hoop for the win. Kaitlin Imai (So., G, Santa Cruz, CA/Scotts Valley HS) earned an assist on the play.
Both teams played stifling defense and forced the other team to work very hard on offense. Pacific owned a 29-28 lead at halftime. In the third quarter, the defensive units held both teams to around 20% shooting as WU gained a slim 7-6 advantage on the scoreboard. The game was tied at 30-30 entering the final period.
The Boxers scored first in the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by Sydney Gray for a 33-30 edge. Willamette countered with an 8-0 run for a 43-38 lead at the 3:22 mark. River started the run with a jumper and a layup, while Danielle Morgan (Sr., F, Lompoc, CA/Lompoc HS/California Lutheran Univ.) added a driving layup, and Ho scored on a floating jumper.
Willamette never trailed again and the Bearcats were only tied on Kovaloff's 3-pointer with 10 seconds to go. Willamette shot 55.6% (5 of 9) on field goals in the fourth quarter.
The Bearcats and Pacific played through four ties and one lead change in the first quarter. The teams were tied at 10-10 following a layup by Ho, but the Boxers countered with a 5-0 run. A 3-pointer by Emily Holsan provided Pacific with a 15-10 lead as the clock reached 2:23. Willamette earned the final four points of the quarter on a pair of free throws by River with 2:17 to play and a jump shot from Ho with 56 seconds remaining.
During the second quarter, each team tallied 14 points. The Boxers held an 18-14 margin early in the quarter and later took a 26-21 lead on a 3-pointer by Shaade Williams at the 3:23 mark. Pacific also led 29-24 after Jasmine Shigeno (Sr., G, Brush Prairie, WA/Hockinson HS) of WU and Holsan of the Boxers scored on 3-pointers. As in the first quarter, the Bearcats recorded the last four points, this time on layups by Ashley Collins (Sr., P, Chino Hills, CA/Chino Hills HS) with 1:42 and 54 seconds on the clock.
Ho led all scorers with 13 points during the game. She also provided three assists, three steals, and a blocked shot. Waldal supplied the Bearcats with 10 points and seven rebounds, while River scored nine points. Imai finished with five boards and three assists, and Collins registered eight points.
Kovaloff topped Pacific with 10 points to go with three assists. Intong and Williams each scored eight points. Intong also grabbed nine rebounds, while Grady earned seven boards. Price earned four assists.