Written by Student Assistant Jake Bilyeu
TACOMA, Wash. – The Pacific Lutheran University women's basketball team opened the fourth annual Pacific Northwest Tournament on Saturday inside Olson Gymnasium, falling 57-51 to Buena Vista University. The Lutes nearly rallied to a win late in the game, erasing a 14-point deficit and owning a one-point edge with under three minutes to go.
The Lutes (1-7) opened the game with an impressive 10-4 run, thanks to a couple of three-pointers from Samantha Kelleigh. However, the Beavers (6-3) crawled back into the game, using a late three of their own to take a 13-12 lead into the second quarter.
The Beavers steadily increased their lead throughout the second, but couldn't keep the Lutes at bay. Anna Hurd kept the Lutes close with seven of the team's 13 points in the quarter to even the score 25-25 at halftime.
The Lutes struggled in the opening minutes of the second half, giving up an early 15-2 run. Kristin Sturdivan provided a late boost to their offense from the outside, but the Lutes still entered the fourth quarter trailing 44-32.
However, the Lutes brought their energy back after the third, scoring the first nine points of the final period. Samantha Kelleigh led the Lutes' late run with her outside shooting, and PLU took the lead off of another three-pointer from Kristin Sturdivan with just under 3 minutes remaining. The lead was short lived, though, as Buena Vista scored the final seven points of the game to secure the win, 57-51.
Kelleigh led all scorers with 15 points while Anna Hurd came off the bench and added eight points while securing 11 rebounds. Kaelyn Voss netted six assists while Sturdivan and Marleisha Cox both scored eight points.
"I thought we played pretty well, and we did a great job of matching their intensity," head coach Jennifer Childress said. "The third quarter was rough, though, and we weren't able to stop their run. But we were able to avoid rolling over by battling back, which was great."
The Lutes' late run was able to happen thanks to their defensive effort, as the team drew three offensive fouls from the Beavers in the span of a few minutes.
"Taking those offensive charges was huge," Childress said. "However, we keep forgetting how small we are, and their offensive boards hurt us tonight."
PLU was outrebounded by a 48-41 margin with the Beavers owning a commanding 22-12 edge in offensive rebounds.
The biggest concern for the Lutes in their next game will be figuring out how to avoid giving up a run in the third quarter. Coach Childress is hoping the team can stay fresh and energetic tomorrow.
"Adjustments need to happen out of locker room," Childress said. "We seemed too relaxed after the half tonight, and we've got to find that pep and spirit."
The Lutes will get the chance to head into winter break with a win on Sunday, as they host Trinity University (Texas) at 4 p.m.