by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SALEM, Ore. – Despite a furious fourth quarter comeback and another double-double from Madison Moffat, the Willamette Bearcats edged the Whitworth Pirates 79-77 on Friday evening.
Kylie Towry led Willamette (10-6, 6-1 NWC) with 24 points. Five Pirates (6-10, 1-6 NWC) scored in double figures.
The Bearcats initially pulled away in the third quarter. Maintaining a 41-37 lead with 8:40 remaining in the period, Ashley Evans hit a pair of three-pointers to extend the lead to 10. Then, Evans hit another three with 1:30 remaining to bump the lead up to 14. After two free-throws from Britanny Kochenderfer Willamette exited the period with a 63-47 advantage.
Down 16 entering the fourth quarter, the Bucs used a pair of runs to retake the lead. Trailing 65-51, four Pirates scored in a 9-0 run to cut their deficit 5 points. Camy Aguinaldo dropped in a layup, followed by a jumper from Erika Kuehn. Then, Annie Estes got free beyond the arc and knocked down a three-pointer. Following a Willamette timeout, Moffat's layup pulled the Bucs within five.
After Willamette dragged the lead back out to 10 points, the Pirates went on an 11-0 run to take their first lead since midway through the second quarter. Back-to-back three-pointers from Kuehn and Grace Douglas gave the Bucs a 71-70 advantage with 2:08 remaining.
The Bearcats, however, retook the lead immediately with two free throws from Towry and didn't relinquish it again. Kochenderfer grabbed a key offensive rebound that allowed Willamette to extend a two-point lead to four, and Whitworth couldn't cut the deficit below two points in the final 35 seconds.
The first half was more of a back and forth battle than the second. Niether team led by more than five points, the Bearcats' advantage entering halftime. Towry scored 16 of her 24 points in the half. The Pirates countered with a balanced offensive attack that featured five players with more five points.
Moffat and Aguinaldo led Whitworth in scoring with 17 points each. Kuehn and Douglas both scored 13, and Alli Kieckbusch rounded out the double figure scorers with 12 points.
The Pirates shot 47% from the floor and 36% on three-pointers. Willamette made 42% of their shots overall and shot 39% from beyond the arc. The Bearcats took 33 free throws and made 79% of them.
Mary Eckenrode (19 points), Kochenderfer (14 points), and Evans (13 points) joined Towry in double figures for Willamette. Kochenderfer and Celine Gregoire both pulled down 7 rebounds.
Up next, the Pirates head to McMinnville, Ore. on Saturday, Jan. 20 to take on Linfield. The matchup with the Wildcats tips off at 4:00p.m.