In a tightly-contested battle on Saturday, Nov. 28, Willamette University was able to pull off a tough victory over the Pomona-Pitzer women's basketball team (1-4) in the final four minutes.
Forward Basha Brulee-Wills PZ ’17 hit one of two foul shots with 38 seconds left to go, closing the deficit to a mere three points. Willamette turned the ball over on the next possession, but neither gaurd Alaina Woo PO ’17 nor Brulee-Wills was able to convert the steal by forward Amelia Hummel PZ ’16.
After a 30-second timeout by Willamette and a free throw made by the opponent, P-P was down by four with 21 seconds left. Brulee-Wills snatched a quick layup before the Bearcats were sent to the foul line. Again they split the pair of free throws, leaving the Sagehens with one last chance to even the score. Unfortunately, when Woo missed a three-point attempt in the final seconds, the game was all but lost.
“The team mentality was very positive and optimistic,” forward Cassandra Palmer PO '18 said. “We thought we were going to win and were prepared to do whatever we could to do that. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out like we had hoped, but we were proud of how we played and left it all on the court.”
P-P put great pressure on the defensive end in the second half as the team nearly rallied for a comeback in the second quarter from a double-digit deficit. Their tough defense kept Willamette at a shooting percentage of 14.3 percent in the third quarter. In addition, the Sagehens outscored Willamette 16-6 in that quarter and erased the deficit at the start of the last quarter. The starting lineup totaled four blocks, with Palmer topping the effort with two blocks.
“It was definitely the best defense our team has played all year and it was nice to see some of the stuff we had been working on in practice these past few weeks come together and work for us,” Palmer said. “It always takes time to get the team chemistry right in terms of defense, and it seems like we finally got the defensive chemistry going in this game.”
Brulee-Wills led the offensive effort with 22 points and Hummel added nine rebounds and three assists in the game.
After a 5-0 start in the first two minutes, P-P lost the lead in a 15-5 surge from Willamette. They fell behind by as much as 13 points in the second quarter. The team shot well from range but did not find its defensive rhythm.
Down by 10 at halftime, the Hens were able to rally for a timely comeback in the third quarter. A three-pointer by Woo and two jump shots by Palmer cut Willamette’s lead down to six. Hummel contributed a crucial steal and a block in the last two minutes of the third quarter. The two teams started off level in the fourth quarter and went neck-to-neck in the final minutes. In the end, P-P fell short and was not able to close up the shaky lead held by Willamette.
Pomona-Pitzer drops to 1-4 overall, and Willamette goes up to 3-1.
This game marked the end of David Wells Classic weekend, during which P-P suffered back-to-back losses to the University of Puget Sound and Willamette. In both games P-P, kept a competitive and positive attitude and improved throughout, but was not able to pull off a win.
“Puget Sound was a very skilled team and we knew that going into the game,” Melissa Hooke PO '19 said. “We stuck with them for the first three quarters, which was an accomplishment for us, so we tried to keep that up in the final quarter. The final score did not reflect how well we competed with them and we were still proud of our performance.”
With the season still young, the Hens know they have a lot of time to improve before league play.
“Obviously we are always trying to improve so we are going to practice everyday with the mindset to get better,” Palmer said. “In addition, we are adding a couple new plays to diversify our offense and some new defensive plays as well.”
The Sagehens' next face-off is against Wheaton College (Ill.) on Saturday, Dec. 5 at home.