Lutes Look To End Season On High Note
THIS WEEK: The Pacific Lutheran University woman's basketball team wrap up their season this week with the conclusion of Northwest Conference play as they host Willamette University and Linfield College. PLU currently sits in seventh place in the NWC, posting an overall record of 5-17 on the year with a 3-11 mark in conference play. The Lutes will look to send their seniors off in winning fashion as they finish off the 2010-2011 season.
BOTTOM DWELLING BEARCATS: On Friday night, the Lutes host the Willamette University Bearcats. Currently sitting in a tie for the ninth and final spot in the NWC, Willamette posts a 2-12 record in conference with a 3-18 mark overall on the year. Posting both the league's worst scoring offense and scoring defense, Willamette has struggled to find a winning formula this season. However, the last time PLU and Willamette met, on Jan. 22 in Salem, Ore., the Bearcats came out victorious registering their first conference win of the year by a score of 73-69. PLU will be looking to avoid a five-game losing streak against WU when they come to Olson Gym this weekend.
WILDCATS SCRATCHING FOR FINAL PLAYOFF BERTH: Saturday night's game against the Linfield Wildcats will play a large role in determining the fourth and final team in the conference's playoff tournament. Linfield is currently in a three way tie with Whitman College and Whitworth University for the fourth and final playoff berth. With a record of 7-7 in conference, Linfield will play two huge games this weekend which will decide their playoff fate. The Wildcats are led NWC leading scorer Gretchen Owens. The guard averages just under 20 points per game and went off for a season high 32 in a 14-point win against the Lutes on Jan. 21 in McMinnville, Ore. Both games this weekend tip off at 6 p.m.
SENIOR SEND-OFF: Two seniors will be playing their last games for the Lutes this weekend. Guards Jordan Westering and Mandy Wall will be finishing their Lute careers in their final game in a PLU uniform. Both will be honored following their game on Saturday night.
LEWIS AND CLARK 81, PLU 55: Lewis & Clark nearly doubled up Pacific Lutheran in rebounds and used that dominance in dumping the Lutes, 81-55, in a Northwest Conference women's basketball game played Saturday night at Pamplin Sports Complex. The host Pioneers grabbed 63 total rebounds, and their 35 boards on the offensive end were three more than Pacific Lutheran's total for the game. That led to plenty of second- and third-chance opportunities for the Pioneers (18-5 overall), who remain atop the Northwest Conference standings with a 12-2 record. The Lutes, meanwhile, were unable to rebound from a mid-week loss to Puget Sound, falling for the 10th time in the last 11 games. They are now 5-17 overall and 3-11 in the conference. With Jordan Westering scoring five points, the Lutes took an early 6-4 lead. The Pioneers responded with 10 unanswered points and did not trail again. PLU closed its deficit to 25-22 on Shelly Kilcup's basket with 3:16 left in the first half, but the Pioneers pulled away in the closing minutes to take a 33-24 halftime edge. Once Lewis & Clark took an 11-point lead with about 17 minutes left in the game, it never led by less than 10 points the rest of the way. The largest leads came at 79-49 on Tayler Wang's three-point shot with 3:12 remaining. That three-pointer was one of only two that the Pioneers made during the game, compared to eight for the Lutes, but that mattered little in the end. Sara Backstrom scored 16 points to lead the Lutes, followed by Kilcup with 12 and Westering with 10. Kilcup led the team with six assists, while Samantha Potter and Mandy Wall shared team-high rebounding honors with five apiece. The Lutes shot 41 percent (22-for-54) from the field, but settled for jump shots and as a result were only 3-for-9 from the foul line. Kristina Williams scored 20 points and Megan Spence added 15 and a game-high nine rebounds for the Pioneers, who had four players with at least seven rebounds. Lewis & Clark shot 39 percent (26-for-67) from the field and enjoyed a huge free throw advantage, making 27 of its 43 attempts, good for 63 percent.
PUGET SOUND 81, PLU 68: 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. Pacific Lutheran turned the game's first possession into a layup by Samantha Potter, and after a UPS basket, Shelly Kilcup hit a three-point shot to make it 5-3. 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.