Linfield Pulls Away from Bearcats in Second Half

Brand Registers 14 Points and Eight Rebounds for Willamette

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

McMINNVILLE, ORE. -- Willamette University was within four points of archrival Linfield College at halftime of their Northwest Conference women's basketball game on Tuesday, Feb. 18, but the Wildcats opened the second half with a 19-5 run to pull away for an 83-53 victory over the Bearcats.

The win at Ted Wilson Gymnasium improved the Wildcats to 8-15 overall, 3-11 in the NWC. Willamette fell to 3-20 on the season, including 1-13 in the NWC.

Linfield built leads of 7-0, 10-3 and 18-10 in the first nine minutes of the game, but Willamette kept the Wildcats from pulling away by connecting on 10 of 12 free throws during the half.

The solid free throw shooting allowed the Bearcats to stay close throughout the half despite shooting just 24.1% (7 of 29) from the field over the first 20 minutes.

Willamette got as close as 22-18 on a free throw by Alex Wert (Fr., F, Spokane, WA/St. George's HS) with 8:03 left in the half. Linfield extended the margin to 26-18 on two free throws by Katelyn Henson with 7:04 to go.

The Wildcats owned a 29-20 advantage after Riley Graham grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a layup with 2:10 remaining. Willamette reduced the lead to just four points by outscoring the Wildcats 7-2 going into the break. The run started with Julia Brand (Jr., F, Kaneohe, HI/Punahou School) scoring on a layup with 1:45 on the clock.

After Kaely Maltman of Linfield put in a layup for the Wildcats 20 seconds later, the Bearcats tallied the final five points of the half on a 3-pointer by Jojo DeLong (Jr., PG, Santa Clarita, CA/Canyon HS) and a jumper in the lane by Daena Mau (Jr., G, Aiea, HI/Punahou School) with 12 seconds left.

Maltman led all players with a double-double at halftime. She scored 12 points and hauled down 10 boards during the first period.

Linfield opened the second half with a 19-5 run that ended with 13 consecutive points. The run included eight points by Taylor Solomon and gave the Wildcats a 50-32 lead. The offensive burst helped Solomon lead all scorers with 20 points on 8 of 12 shooting for the night.

Willamette put in six of the next eight points on a jumper and a layup by Brand and a jump shot by DeLong, as the Bearcats cut the deficit to 52-38. WU could have pulled a bit closer during the run, but Brand and DeLong both missed free throws after being fouled on two of the three baskets.

The Wildcats added the next four points for an 18-point lead and the Bearcats were unable to get closer. Linfield shot 60.6% in the second half (20 of 33) to finish the game at 54.2% overall (32 of 59).

Maltman followed Solomon on the Linfield scoring chart, as she contributed 18 points. Maltman also led both teams with 21 rebounds and seven assists. Jessica McMillan and Grace McMillan each finished with nine points for the Wildcats.

Willamette was led by Brand, who accumulated 14 points and eight rebounds. She was 5 of 10 from the field and hit 4 of 5 free throws. Katie Kalugin (Jr., G, Woodburn, OR/Woodburn HS) provided WU with 12 points and six boards, while DeLong achieved 10 points, three rebounds and three assists.

The Bearcats shot 30.6% (11 of 36) over the final 20 minutes to end the game 18 of 65 (27.7%). WU converted just 4 of 22 three-pointers, but made 13 of 18 free throws (72.2%).

Both teams limited their turnovers, as Willamette lost the ball just seven times and Linfield gave away possession 11 times. Kalugin led all players with three steals.

Willamette will plays its final home game of the season on Friday, Feb. 21 at Cone Field House against Pacific Lutheran University. Game time is set for 6 p.m. (PST). The Bearcats will honors seniors Alexa Beeson (Sr., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) and Rebecca Josephson (Sr., G, Fair Oaks, CA/Del Campo HS) prior to the game.

BOX SCORE

Linfield College 83
Willamette University 53

Julia Brand scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Willamette against the Wildcats.

Julia Brand scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Willamette against the Wildcats.