Lutes Unable to Overcome UPS Free Throw Advantage
TACOMA – Puget Sound moved into first place in the Northwest Conference women's basketball race on Tuesday night with an 81-68 win over the visiting Pacific Lutheran Lutes at Memorial Fieldhouse.
With the victory, the Loggers improved to 18-4 overall and 11-2 in the conference. Pacific Lutheran is now 5-16 overall and 3-10 in the NWC.
After two more trips down the floor, the Loggers had an 8-5 lead. They hit their first five shots - including a trio of threes - and six of their first seven, to build an 18-9 lead less than four minutes into the game. Undaunted, the Lutes rolled off seven unanswered points, capped by Katelyn Smith's jumper with 12:32 left in the half, to make it 18-16. Until Smith hit her jumper, Shelly Kilcup had eight points and Samantha Potter six more for all of the Lutes' scoring.
Puget Sound kept the Lutes at bay for most of the remainder of the first half, but a running bank shot by Sara Backstrom and a three from the right corner by Melissa Pixler pulled the Lutes to within a point at 28-27 with just inside of four minutes left in the period. UPS responded with six consecutive points and eventually took a 34-29 lead into the halftime locker room.
After the hosts started the second half with a basket to open up a seven-point lead, the Lutes tallied eight unanswered points, five by Jordan Westering and a three-ball by Kilcup, to take their first lead since the early going.
Puget Sound built a 57-50 advantage on a pair of Kelsey McKinnis free throws with 7:07 remaining, but a three-point play the conventional way by Smith, followed by a Westering three ball, made it 59-56 with about six minutes left. The Lutes had a chance to make it closer but turned the ball over. On the other end, Sha'Ran Lowe scored a put back and Riordan hit a three to increase Puget Sound's lead to 64-56.
Riordan, a candidate for NWC Player of the Year, took over in the closing minutes, hitting four free throws and assisting on Sarah Stewart's layup to help the Loggers build a 73-63 lead with 1 ½ minutes remaining.
The Lutes made more field goals overall (26 to 24) and more three-point shots (eight to six), but were unable to match the hosts at the foul line. Puget Sound shot an impressive 93 percent (27-for-29), including 13-for-14 in the final three minutes, while the Lutes were 8-for-10, all in the second half, at the stripe.
Rebounding went to the Loggers by a 32-31 margin, with PLU's Potter and Puget Sound's McKinnis sharing game-high honors with six apiece.
Riordan led all players with 27 points, followed by McKinnis with 20. McKinnis and Lindsay Layland both hit 9-for-10 from the free throw line for the Loggers.
Kilcup led the Lutes with 15 points, followed by Backstrom with 14 and Westering with 13. Both Kilcup and Westering knocked down a trio of three-point shots, while Backstrom led all players with four assists.
- PLU -