SALEM, Ore. – A season-high 20 points from senior Sophie Wilson propelled Willamette to a convincing 58-49 Northwest Conference victory over visiting Linfield Tuesday evening inside the Cone Field House.
Julia Brand posted a dozen points for the Bearcats, who earned their first win of the season and now sit at 1-16 on the season and 1-7 in the NWC.
Kaely Maltman single-handedly carried the team in terms of offense, as no other Wildcat had more than nine points. Katelyn Henson, who entered the game ranking fifth in the NWC in scoring (13.2), was held to just six points. The teams were dead even with 32 rebounds apiece, and fairly close in terms of turnovers as the Wildcats committed 19 compared with the Bearcats’ 17.
The ‘Cats (1-13, 0-8 NWC) got off to a hot start with Maltman scoring Linfield’s first six points of the game. Brand countered for the Bearcats with a half-dozen points of her own to make the score 8-6, advantage Linfield, five minutes into the game.
A 3-pointer from Wilson followed by a jumper by Rebecca Josephson gave Willamette a four-point lead and pushed Linfield head coach Robin Potera-Haskins to burn a timeout.
Both teams stalled offensively through the middle part of the first, and a jumper from Maltman reestablished Linfield’s lead at 16-14. Josephson drained another jumper to knot the score at 18-all with five minutes until the break.
The rival clubs battled down the stretch and a three from Wilson with 11 seconds left gave Willamette a 29-24 lead at the halfway mark.
Maltman led all scorers with a dozen in the first, while Wilson was close behind with nine points. Willamette fared slightly better in shooting percentage in the first, sitting at 43.5 compared to Linfield’s 37.5.
Linfield opened the half with a bang, pulling within a single point and forcing Willamette to burn a timeout within the first four minutes. The ‘Cats held onto a slim lead moving through the middle part of the second, as Maltman continued to dominate on the offensive side of the ball.
A three from Wilson capped off a 15-0 run from the Bearcats with less than 10 minutes left that gave Willamette a commanding 52-38 advantage. Linfield failed to challenge Willamette’s double-digit lead, and the Bearcats controlled the pace down the stretch to ensure the victory.
Catie Mets finished with the second-highest point total for Linfield, supplying nine on 3-of-4 shooting from the field. Henson reined in a game-high nine rebounds and handed out three assists, while Maltman added seven boards to her stat line.
COMING UP: Linfield heads to Portland to take on ninth-ranked Lewis & Clark. The NWC matchup is set to tipoff at 6 p.m. Saturday evening in the Pamplin Sports Center.