Written by Student Assistant Jake Bilyeu
TACOMA, Wash. – The Pacific Lutheran University women's basketball team opened the 2016-17 regular season on Friday afternoon, falling 78-52 to California Lutheran University at the Doug McArthur Classic inside Memorial Fieldhouse. The Lutes will get a chance to end the weekend with a victory tomorrow afternoon against Nebraska Wesleyan University to finish out the tournament.
Cal Lutheran (1-0) utilized a fast start to stake an 18-4 lead after one quarter of action. The Lutes recovered and outplayed the Regals in the second quarter, as Kaelyn Voss and Samantha Kelleigh each scored five to give the team a chance at a comeback. PLU outscored the Regals 16-15 in the second quarter and entered halftime trailing 33-20.
The Lutes entered the second half with good offensive distribution, as seven different Lutes scored in the third, but the Regals took control by hitting their shots and getting to the free throw line eight times in the quarter, taking a 57-34 lead into the final period.
The Lute offense regained some energy thanks to five points from Anna Hurd. Ultimately, a late 10-0 run from the Regals opened up the score, allowing them to hand collect the 78-52 win in the season opener for both teams.
"Cal Lutheran is a well-coached and very experienced team, but I would not say they are 20+ points better than us," head coach Jennifer Childress said. "However, today they exposed our youthfulness and we caught their guards on a hot shooting night. We weren't quite ready to trust our defensive shifts, and so we sagged off too much and they converted."
Samantha Kelleigh led the Lutes with 11 points, followed by Lacey Nicholson, who provided a steady offense of 10 points. Marleisha Cox led the way on the boards with ten off the bench, and Kristin Sturdivan and Anna Hurd tallied three assists apiece.
The Lutes first taste of competitive action this season left them with some room to improve, but coach Childress is confident that they'll catch on quickly.
"Offensively, when we settled down and found confidence in attacking the basket our offense showed a ton of potential," Childress said. "Our improvement curve will swing fast. Our team works hard, has great chemistry, and are eager to learn."
That improvement curve begins tomorrow at 2 p.m, when the Lutes wrap up the Doug McArthur Classic against Nebraska Wesleyan.
"This was a great test for us this early in our season," Childress said. "I'm confident that we learned a lot of things that only game experience can teach."