Second half leads to Pios loss in NWC opener

Second half leads to Pios loss in NWC opener

SALEM, Ore. -- Outscored 25-9 in the third quarter, the Lewis & Clark Pioneers had a first-half lead slip away in a 74-65 defeat to the Willamette Bearcats on Friday night at Sparks Center.

The Pioneers led 32-29 entering the second half, but were held scoreless for nearly a six-minute stretch toward the end of the third quarter. The Pios also allowed 15 offensive rebounds by the Bearcats, which led to a 13-7 advantage in second-chance points for the Bearcats.

Lauren Wood had 18 points and eight rebounds to lead the Pioneers (4-3; 0-1 NWC), but along with Janessa Willie, fouled out in the fourth quarter. Alyx Crager had 15 points and Miyah Leith added 13 for the Pioneers.

Crager's 3-pointer with 4:45 remaining in the first quarter gave the Pioneers a 13-5 lead, their largest of the game. The Bearcats outscored Lewis & Clark, 11-2, to lead at the end of the first period, 16-15, despite going without points for nearly five minutes in the quarter.

Wood's layup with 2:14 left in the fourth quarter brought the Pios back within six, 69-63, but Lewis & Clark didn't get closer.

Kylie Towry scored a game-high 25 points, 17 of which came in the first half, to lead the Bearcats (4-2; 1-0 NWC). Jada Leonard scored seven points off the bench and pulled in eight rebounds, including five on the offensive side.

Tori Eichten had a team-high seven rebounds for the Pioneers and had five points despite a 1 of 6 performance from the free-throw line. Lewis & Clark shot a season-low 15 of 24 (62 percent) from the line as a team. Willie finished with four points after shooting 1 of 5. Friday night was her second straight game without a 3-pointer after hitting at least two in three of her first five games. Lewis & Clark made 40 percent from 3-point range, but only made four 3-pointers total, its lowest since the season-opening game.

The Pioneers play their first NWC game on the Pamplin Sports Center floor on Monday at p.m. against the Pacific Boxers.