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PLU Makes it Difficult on Bruins Before Losing 75-59

Sara Backstrom (23)

PARKLAND - If George Fox was going to finish the regular season with a perfect record, the Pacific Lutheran women's basketball team wasn't going to make it easy on the Bruins in Saturday night's Northwest Conference contest in Olson Auditorium.

The Lutes did play the Bruins tough, but in the end the nation's No. 3-ranked team defeated the Lutes, 75-59, to improve to 25-0 for the season and 16-0 in the conference. George Fox will host Puget Sound next Thursday in an opening-round game of the NWC postseason tournament. For Pacific Lutheran, the season ends with a 7-18 overall record, including a 4-12 mark in the conference.

The first half of tonight's game featured nine lead changes and two ties, the latter coming at 21-21 when Andi Adams knocked down a three-point shot with 7:44 showing on the clock. George Fox closed out the period by out-scoring the hosts, 18-2, to take a 39-23 advantage into halftime. Keisha Gordon, Dacia Heckendorf and Kylee Parker hit consecutive three-point shots to close out the run.

When the Bruins opened up a 23-point lead, 53-30, six minutes into the final period, it seemed that the game was pretty much decided. The Lutes, however, had some fight in them, going on a 21-5 surge to cut their deficit to 58-51 with about five minutes remaining. Andi Adams scored seven points during the run, including a layup over the reach of 6-foot 5-inch George Fox center Hannah Munger. Samantha Potter and Mackenzie Bieker both added four points, and PLU's lone senior, Sara Backstrom, closed the flurry with a trey.

Leading by nine with 3 1/2 minutes left, George Fox finally broke the game open with six unanswered points, the first five coming from Keisha Gordon.

Backstrom ended her Pacific Lutheran career with 11 points, including a pair of three-point baskets, and four assists. Potter had 17 points and 12 rebounds for her 14th double-double of the season. Bieker hit all five of her field goal attempts to finish the game with 10 points, and she also added three steals.

The Lutes shot 44 percent from the field (23-for-52) and had a 36-32 rebounding edge, that despite 6-foot post Katelyn Smith not playing because of a knee injury.

Gordon was 3-for-4 from beyond the arc on the way to a team-high 16 points, and she also recorded five steals in the game. Arianna Mohsenian had 15 points, Jamie Roos added 11 and Munger had 10 more, along with a team-high nine rebounds.

The Bruins shot 40 percent from the field (22-for-55) overall and 43 percent (9-for-21) from three-point range.

- PLU -