Written by Student Assistant Jake Bilyeu
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The Pacific Lutheran University women's basketball team opened the D3hoops.com Classic with a nail-biting 70-68 setback against Coe College on Thursday inside South Point Arena. Despite the result, the Lutes turned in their most complete performance of the season so far.
The Lutes (1-9) opened the game slowly trailing the Kohawks (6-6) before their offense was able to find its rhythm late in the first quarter. Kaelyn Voss led the Lutes with 7 points in the first, and a late layup from Julia Berenson gave PLU a 19-17 lead entering the second.
The Lutes struggled to keep their lead after a strong opening quarter, as the Kohawks opened with a 9-1 run. Still, Voss and Lacey Nicholson continued to keep the Lutes close, as they entered the half trailing just 35-30.
The Lutes came out with great offensive energy in the third quarter. Voss continued to push the offense, while Julia Berenson again added a late score, this time from deep, to bring the Lute deficit to 55-49 entering the final 10 minutes.
The Lutes and Kohawks then engaged in a back and forth battle in the fourth. In the fourth quarter alone, there were seven ties and four lead changes. Ultimately, the Kohawks took a late lead on a layup in the final minute, and the Lutes misconnected on three shots late and fell 70-68.
"This was our best full game effort all season, and I am so proud of the advances our team has made on both ends of the court," head coach Jennifer Childress said. "We were out-sized and they hit some big shots but we were not out played today. We played with our hearts and left everything out there."
Kaelyn Voss led the team in her best game so far this season. Voss scored 22 points, and added six rebounds, four assists, and three steals, all without committing a turnover. Nicholson added 16 points, Kristin Sturdivan added 10 while Samantha Kelleigh had nine points. The Lutes committed just seven turnovers in total, their lowest mark of the season.
"KK played extremely well," Childress said. "She started believing in her abilities and stopped second guessing her every move, and she also showed great composure and led our offense with confidence."
The Lutes don't have to wait long to return to the hardwood, facing the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire on Friday at 2 p.m.
"Tomorrow's opponent will be similar to today's foe," Childress said. "They will have the height advantage and a balance of outside threats, but we will scrap and keep fighting, and our hard work will soon reap some benefits."