THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — A crucial defensive stop in the third quarter set up Cal Lutheran for a late comeback over the Willamette (Ore.) Bearcats, Wednesday afternoon, but the Regals were just edged out 51-42 in the Thanksgiving-Eve matchup.
Though the Regals struggled to get a shot to fall in the first half, they returned from a 34-17 deficit at the half to bring the game within one possession within the third quarter by holding the Bearcats to just five points in the period. Sophomore Jade Jordan and freshman Cameron Mallory led the defense with five boards apiece, while the team as a whole forced 17 turnovers and score 18 points off those turnovers.
Offensively, Jordan also led the charge with nine points, while sophomore Jozie Tangeman, junior Natalie Ruhl and senior Grace Derksen followed closely behind with eight each. Overall, Cal Lutheran shot 27.5 percent from the floor, making 14 of 51 field goal attempts.
Willamette opened the game with their strongest period, notching 20 points in the first alone, and held their largest lead of the game by the same amount with 7:24 left in the half. Kali Vickery and Britanny Kochenderfer led the Bearcats with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Defensively, Vickery and Drew Farmer also contributed nine boards apiece.
However, Cal Lutheran came out of the locker room at the half, energized to get themselves back into the game. The team allowed the Bearcats just one jumper for the first seven and half minutes of the third quarter, while scoring 13 unanswered points of their own to make it a six-point game 36-30. A late three-pointer though by Kochenderfer pushed the deficit back to nine heading into fourth.
Even more eager, Ruhl made a layup to open the scoring for the Regals in the last ten minutes. Mallory followed with an important three with 7:33 on the clock to make it a 41-36. Then Ruhl added a second layup to make it a one-possession game 41-38 with 6:35 left to play.
Kochenderfer of the Bearcats responded though with a layup at the three-minute mark to push the deficit back to five. Ruhl again nailed a jumper on the Regals next possession to bring it within three points again, but Kochenderfer rebutted with another layup just twenty seconds later.
Then with just 30 seconds on the clock and still down by five, the Regals fouled the Bearcats hoping to earn the ball back, but Willamette went 6-6 at the line while holding Cal Lutheran scoreless to close out the game 51-42.
The loss moves Cal Lutheran to 1-3 overall heading into their conference opener at Caltech on Wednesday, November 28. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. inside the Braun Athletic Center.
Box Score: WU 51, CLU 42
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Release by Christy Effendie, Assistant Sports Information Director