Whitworth Pulls Away from Willamette, 69-50

Johnston Scores 12 points, hauls down 14 boards to lead the Bearcats

By Timothy Walsh, Assistant Athletics Communications Director

SPOKANE, WASH. -- Willamette University received a double-double from Jo Johnston (Fr., C, Missoula, MT/Florence-Carlton HS), but Whitworth University capitalized on 21 Bearcat turnovers and came away with a 69-50 victory in a Northwest Conference women's basketball game at the Whitworth Fieldhouse on Friday, Jan. 18.

In addition to Johnston's 12 points and 14 rebounds, Julia Brand (So., F, Kaneohe, HI/Punahou School) notched 11 points, and Mackenzie Lamson (Jr., F, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) chipped in seven points and nine boards for Willamette. The Bearcats fell to 0-15 on the year, 0-6 in the NWC.

KC McConnell scored 14 points to lead the Pirates, who improved to 11-5, 4-3 in the NWC.

The game began as a back-and-forth affair, as the Bearcats connected on five of their first 10 shots. Katie Kalugin (So., F, Woodburn, OR/Woodburn HS) was Willamette's early offensive catalyst, scoring six of the Bearcats' first 11 points.

When Johnston connected on a layup with 9:41 remaining in the first half, the score was just 14-13 in favor of Whitworth, but the Pirates fired off a 15-0 run over the following four minutes. By the time Sophie Wilson (Sr., G, Port Townsend, WA/Port Townsend HS) snapped the spurt with a layup at the 5:20 mark, Whitworth's lead was 29-15.

The Pirates eventually extended their advantage to 37-21 with just 1:48 left in the period, but Willamette went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead back to single digits at halftime.

A Johnston offensive rebound led to a layup from Alexa Beeson (Jr., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS), and after the Bearcats forced a Whitworth turnover, Daena Mau (So., G, Aiea, HI/Punahou School) drained a three-pointer. Lamson notched a steal on the Pirates' next possession, and Johnston hit another layup with eight seconds remaining.

The Pirates pushed the lead back into double digits on their first possession of the second half, but Lamson closed the gap to 10 with a layup at the 16:23 mark. Whitworth, however, ripped off a 15-3 run to douse the threat.

Though the Pirates' lead reached as many as 23, the Bearcats kept chipping away. Brand and Beeson combined for all the points on an 8-0 Willamette run that brought the Bearcats back to within 15, at 61-46, with just over three minutes remaining.

But four quick points pushed Whitworth's lead back to 19, and the teams traded baskets from that point to the end of the game.

Both teams struggled from the field, as the Bearcats connected on just 17 of 51 attempts (33.3%), while Whitworth shot 34.2% (25 of 73) for the game. Both teams made 15 free throw attempts, but the Pirates were slightly more efficient than Willamette, connecting on 65.2% of their charity shots (15 of 23) to the Bearcats' 53.6% (15 of 28).

Behind Johnston's superb effort, the Bearcats outrebounded Whitworth 50-46. It was the first time Willamette outrebounded an NWC opponent this season. The Pirates, however, committed just eight turnovers to the Bearcats' 21.

Willamette will conclude its Eastern Washington road trip tomorrow evening at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. (PST).

BOX SCORE

Whitworth University 69
Willamette University 50

Jo Johnston set career-highs in points and rebounds, while earning her first career double-double at Whitworth.

Jo Johnston set career-highs in points and rebounds, while earning her first career double-double at Whitworth.