Double Trouble in Eastern Washington
THIS WEEK: After splitting a pair of home games last weekend (59-48 loss to Linfield, 71-52 win over Willamette), Pacific Lutheran will travel to Eastern Washington to face Whitman and Whitworth. Friday at 6 p.m. PLU will be in Walla Walla to take on the Whitman Missionaries in Sherwood Center. Saturday, the Lutes will travel to Spokane to play the Whitworth Pirates at 4 p.m. at the Whitworth Fieldhouse.
LIVE STATS: Live stats of every Pacific Lutheran home game are available and can be accessed on the www.golutes.com site. Click on the Live Stats link on the right side of the page and then on the appropriate link.
LISTEN LIVE: Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Robertson will be courtside to call the remainder of the PLU home and road basketball games. Those games can be heard in the Tacoma area on KLAY 1180 AM, as well as online at www.golutes.com. Click on the Listen Live on the right side of the page and then on the appropriate link.
GOING ON A MISSION: Last Saturday the Whitman Missionaries suffered a devastating 82-51 to the George Fox Bruins. With this loss the Missionaries hold a 6-4 NWC record and a 10-9 overall record. After holding on for the first 11 minutes of the game, the Bruins took off on a 14-2 run. The Missionaries were unable to catch up the rest of the game. Freshman Heather Lovelace was a stand-out player that night matching her career-high 13 points. Lovelace made all six of the field goals she attempted as well as one of her two free throws. For the season, senior guard Jenele Peterson is Whitman's leading scorer with an average of 12.9 points per game (tying with PLU's Shelly Kilcup for 10th best in the league). Sophomore Meghan White ranks seventh among Northwest Conference players with an average of 7.4 rebounds per game, and she is eighth in field goal percentage at .472.
PLU VS. WHITMAN - THE SERIES: Whitman and PLU have met 59 times since 1980, the Lutes recording 31 wins and 28 losses. The first time that these programs met this season, Jenele Peterson scored 15 points and handed out nine assists to lead the visiting Missionaries to a 64-48 victory over the host Lutes on Jan. 7. Peterson got Whitman out on the break early and often in the opening half, picking up seven of her assists in the first 20 minutes. The Missionaries broke away from a 6-6 tie on Kelly Peterson's three-point basket just 4:20 into the game, and they never trailed after that. For Pacific Lutheran, Shelly Kilcup led the way with 13 points, followed by Katelyn Smith and Samantha Potter with 12 each and Sara Backstrom with 11. Both Smith and Potter had eight rebounds to lead PLU to a 32-30 advantage in that category, and Backstrom contributed a team-best four assists. The Lutes shot 40 percent (19-for-47) for the game. Last season, the Lutes lost both competitions to the Missionaries, the first ending with a 77-65 score, the second going into double overtime and ending 65-61.
TAKING UP BATTLE AGAINST THE PIRATES: Whitworth senior Lexi Belcher is ranked third in the NWC, averaging 16.2 points per game, and she also among the conference's best shooters. She ranked fourth in three-point percentage at .378, and she is ninth in overall shooting at .464. Whitworth is generally a pretty balanced team with Emily Guthrie (11.2 ppg), Kayla Johnson (11.2 ppg) and Lauren Picha (10.1 ppg) all joining Belcher in double-figure scoring average. Picha is the NWC's best three-point shooter at .405 percent, and Johnson ranks eighth with 7.1 rebounds per game.
PLU VS. WHITWORTH - THE SERIES: The two teams have faced off 57 times since 1980 and the Lutes have recorded 32 wins and 25 losses. In the first game between the teams this season played Jan. 6 in Parkland, Samantha Potter scored 36 points to tie a Pacific Lutheran women's basketball single-game scoring record but the Lutes still came out on the short end of an 80-67 decision. Potter tied the record of 36 points set by Tanya Wilson against Whitman on Jan. 28, 1995. Potter scored 20 of her points on 10-for-10 shooting in the first half and ended up 17-for-21 from the field on the way to her record-tying point total. Still, it was Whitworth that made a number of big plays in the second half to steal the victory and give its 18-year head coach, Helen Higgs, her first-ever win over a PLU team in Olson Auditorium after 17 straight losses. In addition to her 36 points, Potter collected a game-high 10 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season. Shelly Kilcup tallied 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists to help the Lutes' cause. After shooing 59 percent in the opening half the Lutes made just 9-for-28 from the field (32 percent) in the final half to finish at 46 percent for the game. Last season, the Lutes won both competitions against the Pirates, the first 86-60, and the second 58-57.
POTTER IS CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Samantha Potter averaged 21 points and 9.5 rebounds in two games last weekend to earn Northwest Conference women's basketball student-athlete of the week honors. Potter, a sophomore post from Portland, Ore., became the first Pacific Lutheran player, either female or male, to receive the conference honor during the 2011-12 season. She had her eighth double-double of the campaign on Friday night, scoring 19 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in a 59-48 loss to Linfield, and then tallied 23 points and eight rebounds in a 71-52 victory over Willamette on Saturday. She shot 58 percent from the field in the two contests. "Samantha had a great weekend and has been consistently outstanding for us throughout this season," PLU head coach Kelly Robinson said. Potter averages 16.9 points and 9.8 rebounds and is shooting 54 percent from the field, all teams highs, this season.
STILL THINKING PINK: Pacific Lutheran has already hosted Think Pink Breast Cancer Awareness and Coaches Vs. Cancer events at home games this year, but the PLU women's and men's players, coaches and fans will continue their fight against cancer when PLU plays at the University of Puget Sound on Tuesday, Feb. 7. The PLU coaches have agreed to have their players wear their pink gear to show support for the mother of PLU women's player Shelly Kilcup, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2011. Additionally, the Pacific Lutheran players will show their support for Stana Landon, a Puget Sound assistant athletic trainer, who is fighting her second battle against breast cancer. Stana is the best friend of PLU assistant athletic trainer Gen Ludwig. So PLU fans, if you plan to attend either or both Feb. 7 games, make sure to wear your pink to show your support of Mrs. Kilcup and Stana Landon. As a side note, pink ribbons will be sold at the game for $1 each in order to help with Stana's medical bills.
LINFIELD 59, PLU 48: Trailing Linfield by a single point at halftime, Pacific Lutheran shot just 23 percent in the second half and dropped a 59-48 Northwest Conference women's basketball game to the visiting Wildcats on Friday night in Olson Auditorium. The two teams played the initial 20 minutes on nearly even terms with two ties and 11 lead changes. Linfield led by as many as eight points, 23-15, on a pair of Kaely Maltman free throws with 8:38 left, only to see the hosts respond with 13 unanswered points to go ahead 28-23 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the period. PLU sophomore post Samantha scored eight of her game-high 19 points during the surge. Potter put together her eighth double-double of the season, adding 11 rebounds to her 19 points. She was the only PLU player to score in double figures, though Katelyn Smith tied for game-high rebounding honors with 12. The Lutes shot 34 percent (20-for-59), including 17 percent (3-for-18) from beyond the three-point line.