Lutes Open Second Half of Conference Slate at Home
COMING UP: Pacific Lutheran (5-12 overall, 3-5 Northwest Conference) hosts Linfield (4-13, 2-6), Friday, 6 p.m.; PLU hosts Pacific (6-10, 3-6), Saturday, 6 p.m.; PLU hosts Puget Sound (15-2, 7-1), next Tuesday, 6 p.m.
LISTEN TO THE LUTES: You can listen to PLU women's basketball games on KLAY 1180 AM in the Tacoma area and also at www.klay1180.com. Long-time announcer Bob Robertson calls the action for the Lutes.
SECOND HALF BEGINS: Pacific Lutheran enters the second half of the Northwest Conference schedule with the advantage of playing five of its final eight games in Olson Auditorium, starting with weekend games against visiting Linfield and Pacific. The Lutes host the Linfield Wildcats on Friday and the Pacific Boxers on Saturday before welcoming the Puget Sound Loggers next Tuesday. The Lutes finished the first half of the NWC season with a 3-5 record, good for a fifth-place tie in the standings with Pacific (though the Boxers have since lost to George Fox in conference action). The Lutes are currently one game behind fourth-place Whitworth. At stake for the Lutes during the second half of the conference season is a push for one of four NWC playoff berths.
NWC STANDINGS: George Fox (9-0) and Puget Sound (7-1) hold down the top two spots in the conference standings and face each other on Friday night at the UPS Fieldhouse. George Fox tipped Puget Sound in overtime during their first meeting of the season. Lewis & Clark (6-2) is third, followed by Whitworth (4-4), PLU and Pacific (3-5), Whitman and Linfield (2-6) and Willamette (1-7).
ABOUT LINFIELD: The Wildcats are currently in the midst of a three-game losing streak and have dropped 11 of their last 13 games. They have been outscored by an average of 5.5 points per game this year, though they have grabbed an average of 3.1 more rebounds per game their their foes. The 'Cats shoot 37 percent from the field and 29 percent from beyond the arc. Front court players Gretchen Owens and Lindsey Gummersall have picked up their games in Northwest Conference play, Owens averaging 16.9 points and Gummersall 13.6 points in their previous eight NWC games.
THE SERIES: Linfield has lost 29 straight to PLU dating back to the 1995-96 season, and it trails 41-16 in the all-time series between the two programs.
THE FIRST TIME: Jordan Westering and Tracy Goehri combined for 40 points and 13 rebounds, helping Pacific Lutheran race past Linfield, 75-58, in the conference opener for both teams on Jan. 2 in McMinnville, Ore. Goehri hit 9-of-11 shots on her way to 20 points and she grabbed a game-high seven rebounds. Westering added 20 points by cashing in 7-of-11 shots, including 4-of-6 from three-point range, and she added six rebounds. The Lutes shot .549 from the field for the game.
ABOUT PACIFIC: The Boxers, already opened the second half of the conference season on Tuesday and lost to unbeaten George Fox, earned the fourth-and-final conference playoff berth a year ago. They are certainly still in the playoff hunt, but a loss to PLU on Saturday would hurt their chances. The Boxers, who shoot 38 percent from the floor and 26 percent from three-point land, have been out-scored by an average of 5.9 points and out-rebounded by an average of 0.2 per game this season. Guard Rochel Reeves-Howe is one of the league's top scorers, averaging 14.7 during the conference season, and she gets plenty of inside help from Julianne Erbe, who is averaging 13.2 points and 7.4 rebounds in conference counters.
THE SERIES: PLU hold a 36-23 advantage over Pacific in the all-time series.
THE FIRST TIME: A big first half provided all of the momentum Pacific needed to notch a victory as the Boxers walked away with a 73-59 victory over visiting PLU on Jan. 3. The Boxers blistered the nets for 50 percent shooting in the opening period, connecting for 15-of-30 from the field and 5-of-10 from the three-point line, much of it behind 13 points in the stanza from Julianne Erbe. Pacific went into halftime with a 42-21 lead. The Lutes cut the lead to 10 late in the game, but would never come closer. Sara Backstrom led PLU with 14 points while Jordan Westering connected for 12 points. Meghan Dowling pulled down nine boards for the Lutes.
WILLAMETTE TOP LUTES: PLU shot a miserable 22 percent from the field and couldn't overcome its woeful shooting in dropping a 64-49 conference decision to the Willamette Bearcats last Friday night in Salem, Ore. The Lutes made just 15-of-67 from the field, including 4-of-15 (27 percent) from three-point range. They did manage to pull down 26 offensive rebounds among their 43 total boards, but their inability to put the ball in the basket proved to be their downfall on this night. Tracy Goehri recorded a double-double for the Lutes with 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Melissa Pixler added 12 points for the Lutes.
BRUINS JUMP ON PLU: George Fox showed why it is ranked No. 6 in Division III women's basketball, cruising to its 11th consecutive win with a 67-47 conference victory over the Lutes last Saturday night in Newberg, Ore. The Bruins scored the first eight points of the game and led by as many as 33 points before settling for the 20-point victory. PLU sophomore guard Melissa Pixler heated up in the second half, scoring 14 of her team-high 19 points in the final 20 minutes. She knocked down a total of five three-point field goals in the game, four coming in the second half. No other PLU player scored in double figures. George Fox dominated in every area, particularly in rebounding where it had a huge 52-25 edge. Meghan Dowling pulled down seven boards to lead the Lutes in that category.
INJURY REPORT: Pacific Lutheran has had its share of bumps and bruises this year and last weekend's game were ample evidence of that. Freshman guard Shelly Kilcup, who averaged almost 14 points per game in the team's first eight games, remains inactive with a stress fracture in her leg. Starting guard Sarah Backstrom was out last weekend with a concussion, one weekend after Mandy Wall missed a couple of games because of injury. In addition, Jordan Westering injured her knee in a fall against George Fox, though she could return for this weekend's games against Linfield and Pacific.
LUTE NOTES: Senior post Tracy Goehri is the only PLU player to start all 17 games. She averages 9.9 points and 5.9 rebounds in those 17 games, though her conference scoring numbers are much better at 13.9 points per game. A pair of sophomore guards, Sara Backstrom and Melissa Pixler, average 10.7 points and 10.6 points per game, respectively, in conference tilts. Pixler has picked it up from three-point range in recent games and is shooting 41 percent from long range in eight NWC counters.
LUTES WELCOME SPECIAL GUESTS: A large number of women's basketball alumni will be on hand this Saturday as the PLU women's hoops program and the PLU Office of Constituent Relations welcomes the former Lutes. Saturday's festivities will include a basketball game pitting alumni against one another at 3 p.m. There will also be a reception in the field house and all alumni in attendance will be honored at halftime of the women's game. In addition to the alumni bash, youths who have participated in various PLU basketball camps and clinics are also invited to attend Saturday's game free of charge.
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