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NORTH BEND — After a solid first-half performance from the North Bend girls that kept the game close, the second half belonged to Willamette on Tuesday night. Using a third quarter surge, the Wolverines — now 11-8 and 8-2 in the Midwestern League — cruised to a 47-25 victory on Tuesday night.

“I don’t think we can be satisfied with playing a good half. ... We’ve played three quarters of good basketball at times and tonight we didn’t have three good quarters,” said North Bend head coach Mike Forrester. The Bulldogs are now at 4-19 on the season and 1-9 in Midwestern League play.

“We’re capable of three good quarters so the next step would be to have four solid quarters. And be able to stop those runs from happening.”

After back-to-back buckets from North Bend’s Aby Holling — Holling had six of her nine points in the third period — the Bulldogs trailed 20-16 with 6:30 left in the quarter. The closest the game had been since early in the first quarter, Willamette promptly answered with a 17-3 scoring run.

“It was like jeez, all of a sudden it went from manageable to not very manageable,” said Forrester.

“(In the) first half I thought defensively we were solid. You know, the Willoughby girl, she’s the best post player in our league and I didn’t think we let her absolutely control the game. And in the second half we let her control the game.”

While Willamette’s Natalie Willoughby finished with a game-high 19 points, it wasn’t the post that got the scoring started during the third quarter. Instead it was consecutive 3-pointers from Lena Evans and Makenzie Crawford — neither player had scored up to that point in the game. Willoughby then got in on the action with a three-point play and the once close game was now all Wolverines.

“We just made sure that we fine-tune a couple things at halftime and we’re pretty good at third quarters. So we came out pretty strong with it and so we did that,” said Willamette head coach Danielle Bellando. “I was joking with my assistant, I was saying I think we shoot better at sea level.”

Willamette exploded for a 19-point third quarter on the way to outscoring North Bend 29-13 in the second half. Helping provide the Wolverines with opportunities throughout the game was Willamette’s 33-14 rebounding advantage.

Corralling rebounds and scoring put backs all night was Willamette’s Willoughby

“She’s a beast down there. ... She knows her role on the team, she does a good job of getting open and sometimes she’ll get some wild pass and she’ll catch it like a receiver out there,” said Bellando.

With Willamette running away with the game late, it was North Bend keeping the contest close throughout the first half. Leading the way was Makoa Matthews who had three of North Bend’s four first-half field goals. Matthews finished with nine points.

North Bend trailed 15-5 early in the second quarter before a pair of free throws from Holling and back-to-back Matthews baskets made it a five-point Willamette lead. The Wolverines lead 18-12 at the half.

“I thought Makoa played really well tonight. It’s good to see her have a better shooting night. And I think Megan Proett played really hard tonight,” said Forrester.

Proett finished with four points and was physical on defense.

“I mean, they’re good and it’s too bad that they have two bigs that are a bad matchup for us," Forrester said. "We just couldn’t hold it for four quarters.”

Willamette’s other big, Nancy Coffman, finished with five points while Whitney Young had nine for the Wolverines.

After a re-scheduled game, North Bend now has a back-to-back with a road game at Ashland on Friday followed by a contest at Eagle Point on Saturday.

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Reporter Zachary Silva can be reached at 541-266-6036 or by email at zachary.silva@theworldlink.com.

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