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February 15, 2012

Lutes Look to End Season Strong

THE END DRAWS NEAR: Pacific Lutheran women's basketball will wrap up its 2011-12 season at home this weekend with Northwest Conference games against Pacific on Friday and George Fox on Saturday. Both contests start at 6 p.m. The Lutes hold a 7-16 record, 4-10 in the conference for the season.

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.

SENIOR NIGHT: Sara Backstrom, the only senior on this year's team, will close out her PLU career this weekend and will be honored following Saturday's game against George Fox. Backstrom has started 71 of the 91 games she has played as a Lute, accumulating more than 600 points and racking up 282 assists in her career. Her assist total ranks her seventh on the all-time Pacific Lutheran women's basketball list. This season, Backstrom is ranked fourth in the conference, averaging 3.1 assists per game.

GLOVES UP: Pacific has put together a winning record this season (12-10) but has struggled in conference play (5-9). The team's strength is on the front line where Erica Schultz and Paige Jensen have led the Boxers throughout the 2011-12 campaign. Schultz averages 13.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, and she is the team leader with 26 blocked shots. Jensen, who is the current Northwest Conference Player of the Week, averages 12.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per contest. Pacific started its year with a 9-2 record but since then has won only three of its last 11 games.

THE SERIES: Pacific Lutheran is 39-24 in the all-time series with Pacific.

THE LAST TIME: Building off of the note that the Boxers have lost eight of 11, one of those losses came at the hands of the Lutes back on Jan. 21 in Forest Grove, Ore. Samantha Potter had a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds as PLU ended a seven-game losing streak with the win over the Boxers. PLU played perhaps its most complete game of the season, scoring the first points of the game and never trailing. Led by Potter's 10-for-17 performance, the Lutes shot 49 percent from the field (27-for-55) compared to just 28 percent (17-for-60) for the Boxers. Shelly Kilcup drained a three-point shot to open the scoring just 12 seconds into the game, and the Lutes were on their way. PLU led by as many as 16 points in the first half, 31-15, and took a 33-24 lead into the halftime break. The Lutes totaled 16 steals in the game.

SETTING A TRAP FOR THE BRUINS: George Fox comes into the weekend with a perfect 23-0 overall record, including a 14-0 record in the conference, and the nation's No. 3 ranking. The only teams between the Bruins and a perfect regular season record are Linfield, which plays at Fox on Friday, and the Lutes. GFU, by the way, is three years removed from its perfect record and national championship season in 2009. Hannah Munger, a 6-5 junior post, leads the Bruins with 14.0 points per game, 10.0 rebounds per game, and 88 blocked shots. She set the George Fox career blocked shots record last Saturday night with her 288th rejection, and she ranks eighth all-time in GFU women's basketball scoring. Keisha Gordon, a 5-10 senior wing who was a key component of the 2009 national championship team, averages 13.3 points, 6-0 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Those two are outstanding shooters, Munger making 57 percent of her shots and Gordon close behind at 55 percent. The Bruins have outscored their opponents by an average of 23.0 points per game, and they have grabbed 9.9 rebounds more per game than their foes. They also average 12.3 steals and 5.9 blocks per game, numbers that have clearly helped them achieve their undefeated season.

THE LAST TIME: Pacific Lutheran shot the ball well, piled up lots of assists and stayed with George Fox in the rebounding department on Sunday, but the Lutes undid themselves with turnovers in dropping a 71-51 decision to the Bruins on Jan. 20 in Newberg, Ore. PLU turned the ball over 23 times compared to just 10 for the Bruins. Katelyn Smith scored a career-high 19 points on 9-for-12 shooting from the field. She added six rebounds, six assists and five steals in one of her best all-around performances as a collegiate player. Shelly Kilcup scored all 15 of her points on 5-for-7 shooting from beyond the three-point line, while Samantha Potter added 10 points and a team-best eight rebounds for the Lutes.

THE SERIES: George Fox has won 11 consecutive games against PLU and now has a 24-17 advantage in the all-time series.

POTTER DOUBLES HER FUN: During the 2010-11 season Samantha Potter had four double-doubles. This season, Potter has tripled that amount with 12 double-doubles, but with only two games remaining she won't set break the program's record for most double-doubles in a season. Nikki Johnson had 15 double-doubles (14 for points-rebounds, one for points-assists) in 2005-06, and Tara Millet had 15 double-doubles (all points-rebounds) in 1997-98. Jessica Iserman had 14 double-doubles (all points-rebounds) in 2000-01. In her two-year PLU career (she was a CC transfer), Nikki Johnson had 25 total double-doubles. Potter leads the league this year with 10.7 rebounds this year, 4.7 of those offensive. Potter is third in league for both points per game, 16.8, and field goal percentage, 52.2 percent.

L&C 76, PLU 65:  Pacific Lutheran held a lead through the opening seven minutes of the game on Saturday night, but No. 9-ranked Lewis & Clark College proved to be too much for the Lutes, taking a 76-65 win at Pamplin Sports Center in Portland, Ore. The host Pioneers are now 21-2 overall and 12-2 in the conference, their only two losses to unbeaten NWC foe George Fox, which is ranked No. 3 in Division III women's basketball. Samantha Potter recorded her 12th double-double of the season the PLU with 15 points and 14 rebounds, but it wasn't enough to help the Lutes overcome the Pioneers. With Katelyn Smith scoring six points and Chrissy Swope adding four, the Lutes raced out to a 14-10 lead seven minutes into the game. Lewis & Clark responded with a 14 unanswered points, capped by Neva Houser's three-point basket, to take a 24-14 lead with 9 1/2 minutes left in the opening half. The Pioneers led by double figures for the remainder of the game. Potter was Pacific Lutheran's leading scorer and rebounder, and she also tied Sara Backstrom for the team high with four assists. Mackenzie Bieker added 13 points, Smith chipped in 12 points and Swope had 10 for PLU.

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