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Tigers Bite Lutes 81-62 at PNW Tourney

Tigers Bite Lutes 81-62 at PNW Tourney

Written by Student Assistant Jake Bilyeu

TACOMA, Wash. – The Pacific Lutheran University women's basketball team wrapped up the fourth-annual Pacific Northwest Tournament on Sunday, dropping a tough 81-62 decision against Trinity University. The Lutes again rallied in the fourth, but the Tigers had built up too much of a lead with a strong third quarter to remain undefeated.

The two sides traded buckets at the start before the Tigers (9-0) jumped out to the first big lead of the game, scoring 10 straight for the 14-4 lead. The Lutes (1-8) fought back with a late run to close the gap. A pair of three-pointers from Samantha Kelleigh and Kristin Sturdivan helped the team enter the second quarter down just 20-14.

The Lutes continued to bring themselves back into the game, coming within one point of the Tigers on a Kaelyn Voss layup with 6:08 left in the second quarter. However, a 7-0 Tiger run gave Trinity some breathing room, entering the half leading the Lutes 38-30.

The Tigers, receiving votes in the latest D3Hoops.com Top 25 Poll, pumped up the pressure after halftime, and the Lutes had a difficult time finding their rhythm. The Tigers closed the quarter on a 12-2 run, entering the final period with a 61-38 lead.

The Lute offense regained control in the final 10 minutes, outscoring Trinity 24-20 in the final frame. After an opening spurt of outside shooting from Samantha Kelleigh, Julia Berenson caught fire. Berenson hit four straight three-pointers in the quarter. Ultimately, the Tigers found enough offense to keep the Lutes out of reach, going on to win, 81-62.

"We played a great 25 minutes, but we weren't able to sustain our focus and execution," head coach Jennifer Childress said.  "This mental vacation will be nice, and we'll hopefully come back fresh and ready to bring back the fundamentals of our game."

Kelleigh poured on 19 points and dished out six assists to lead the Lutes and was honored with a selection to the six player All-Tournament team.

"Games are won and lost right out of halftime, so we need to come out with more intensity," Julia Berenson said. "It's a mental thing, and we just have to get past this block."

Berenson provided an additional spark for the Lutes off the bench, going five-for-five from downtown with scoring a career-high 17 points. It's not the first time Berenson has provided a key performance, and she aims to continue to do so throughout the rest of the season.

"I was just trying not to focus on the deficit and help get a spark going," Berenson said. "I had to show that we were going to fight to the end, and never give up."

After their holiday break, the Lutes will fly out to Las Vegas for the D3hoops.com Classic, which begins on Thursday, December 29.