SPOKANE, Wash. – A Whitworth University rally from 21 points behind ran out of gas late in the fourth quarter as visiting Willamette University held on for an 85-72 win over the Pirates in a Northwest Conference women's basketball game on Friday night.
Whitworth (8-4 overall, 1-2 NWC) got within four points with less than four minutes to play in the game, but the Bearcats (9-3, 3-0) used hot three-point shooting to hold off the Bucs.
The teams were tied 19-19 after one quarter. Willamette took a 13-10 lead on Drew Farmer's basket, but Whitworth answered with a 9-3 run to go up 19-16 on Courtney Gray's bucket. The Bearcats shot 62% (8-13) in the opening quarter while the Pirates only shot 43% (9-21). But Whitworth was able to take eight more shots than Willamette by forcing seven Bearcat turnovers.
Willamette took control by outscoring Whitworth 26-11 in the second quarter. The Bearcats were still hot, making 11-18 (61%) from the floor. Ava Kitchen's layup extended Willamette's lead to 43-26 and the Bearcats led 45-30 at the break. Sami Riggs scored 12 points in the first half, making 4-5 from three-point range.
The Bearcats extended their advantage to 58-37 four minutes into the third quarter when Riggs hit her fifth three-pointer. However the Pirates began to fight back, getting to within 68-55 at the end of the third quarter on a pair of free throws by Gray. Sydney Abbot led the way with nine points in the period.
Whitworth scored the first six points of the fourth quarter, including a three-pointer by Talia Brandner to get within 68-61. When Gray scored a layup following Jordan Smith's steal with just under four minutes to play, the Pirates had pulled within 73-69. Kassin Hopkins, who had a huge second half, hit the shot of the game by making a three-pointer from the corner with 2:04 left and Willamette was able to pull away at the free throw line down the stretch.
Gray scored 19 points to lead the Pirates in scoring. Abbott added 18 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Quincy McDeid scored 16 points and Brander finished with nine.
Hopkins scored all 20 of her team-high point total in the second half for the Bearcats. Riggs finished with 18 points and Amanda Carpenter totaled 15 points.
Whitworth will try to end a two-game losing streak when the Bucs host Lewis & Clark College on Saturday night in a game that has been pushed back to 6:00 pm due to weather-related travel issues for the Pioneers.