SALEM, Ore. – Visiting Whitworth dropped its Northwest Conference women's basketball season opener on Saturday night, falling 72-48 at Willamette University.
The Pirates fell to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in the NWC while the Bearcats improved to 6-1, 1-1 and also ended a 14-game losing streak to Whitworth. Willamette earned its first win over Whitworth since 2009 and its first home victory over the Bucs since 2007.
The Pirates took an early 8-4 lead on a Jessica Thoens three-pointer, but they could not sustain the momentum. A Grace Douglas layup gave Whitworth its final lead of the game at 12-11. The Bearcats closed the opening quarter on a 9-4 run to take a 20-16 lead.
Thoens scored again to pull the Bucs within 20-18 after the opening possession of the second period. But then Willamette took control, going on an 11-1 run to open its first double digit lead of the game. Kylie Towry's free throws gave the Bearcats their largest lead of the first half (40-24) with 37 seconds to go. Thoens hit her third basket of the first half to get Whitworth within 40-26 at the break.
Willamette dominated the boards in the first half, outrebounding the Pirates 21-9, including an 8-1 edge in offensive rebounds. That allowed the Bearcats to get up eight more shots. They also were perfect at the free throw line (7-7), while Whitworth was only 2-4 at the charity stripe in the opening half.
The Pirates looked like they might be setting up a fourth quarter rally when Madison Moffat and Alli Kieckbusch both scored layups to pull Whitworth within 57-46 with just under ten minutes to play. But the Pirates would score only two more points the rest of the way and Willamette finished the game on a 15-2 run.
Callie Harwood led the Bucs with 14 points, 11 coming after halftime. Moffat added nine points and Thoens scored all seven of her points in the first half. Whitworth shot 39.6% (21-53) from the field, 23.1% (3-13) from three-point range and finished the game 3-8 (37.5%) from the free throw line.
Madi Andresen scored 17 points for Willamette and Mary Eckenrode added 13 points. The Bearcats finished the game with a 51-26 advantage in rebounds and shot 45.6% (26-57) from the field. They made 14 of 18 free throws (77.8%).
Whitworth will return to action on Tuesday night with a game at 25th-ranked (WBCA) Whitman College.