by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Molly Danielson and Kory Oleson scored 22 points apiece to lead the Linfield Wildcats to an 85-81 win over the Whitworth Pirates.
Danielson and Oleson, who entered the game as the Northwest Conference's leading scorers, were joined in double figures by Cassidy Schutz, who dropped in 15 points for the Wildcats (7-8, 3-3 NWC). Camy Aguinaldo led all scorers with 26 points on 10-19 shooting for the Pirates (8-7, 3-3 NWC).
The Pirates were in control of the game for much of the first half after taking an early lead. Danielson opened the game with a jumper that gave the Wildcats a 2-0 advantage, but the Bucs responded with seven straight points. Aguinaldo and Madison Moffat each hit a jumper before Aguinaldo canned a three-pointer to put Whitworth up 7-2.
Whitworth maintained the five-point lead for much of the half, but the Wildcats made a 10-1 run with 3:58 remaining to turn a 34-29 Pirate lead into a 39-35 Wildcat advantage. Schutz drained a pair of threes to open the run and Oleson hit a pair of jumpers to put Linfield up four.
The two teams entered halftime tied at 45. After back-and-forth play opened the second half, Linfield made an 8-2 run at the end of the third quarter that left the Wildcats up 8 with 49 seconds remaining in the period. Morgan Croxford sparked the run with a pair of jumpers.
Moffat responded with a 5-0 spurt of her own. The senior wing hit a jumper and three free-throws as Whitworth closed the period down three points.
The Bucs opened the fourth quarter shooting 4-6 from the field and took a 77-75 lead with 6:51 remaining. Megan Dorney provided most of the punch in the early minutes, scoring four of Whitworth's nine points as they re-took the lead.
Linfield responded to the Pirates early spurt by taking a 79-77 lead thanks to four straight free-throws. After Talia Brandner drained her second three-pointer of the game, the Wildcats bounced back with a pair of jumpers from Danielson to make the lead 83-80.
Aimee Smith hit a late free-throw to pull the Pirates back within two, but Croxford banked home a wide-open layup on the other end of the floor to seal the win for Linfield.
The two teams finished the game with nearly identical statistics. Both shot 50% (32-64) from the floor, and the Pirates made 41.7% (7-17) of their three-pointers to Linfield's 40% (4-10). Whitworth narrowly won the turnover battle 20-19, but the Wildcats picked up one more offensive rebound than the Pirates (11-10).
Moffat joined Aguinaldo in double figure scoring and did a little bit of everything for the Bucs. The senior finished with 14 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals.
Whitworth returns to action January 18 when it hosts Puget Sound at 6 p.m.