Written by Student Assistant Jake Bilyeu
TACOMA, Wash. – The Pacific Lutheran University women's basketball team outscored Northwest Conference rival Whitworth University over the final two quarters on Friday night but its wasn't enough, stumbling 72-60 to open a four-game homestand inside Olson Gymnasium.
The Lutes (1-21, 0-13 NWC) offense struggled in the first quarter, and their defense had a difficult time picking up the energy in the early going.
The Pirates (10-12, 6-7 NWC) took advantage slow start for the Lute (1-21, 0-13 NWC) offense, jumping out to an early 14-4 lead just over five minutes into the game. Kaelyn Voss helped get the Lute offense going in the second quarter, but was unable to chip into the lead, trailing 39-23 at the halftime break.
The Lutes initiated a full-court press late in the second half and began to turn the game around. The Pirates turned the ball over 20 times in the second half, and the Lutes cut the lead to as low as nine points with 1:35 left in the game off a Mackenzie Cooper jumper. While the Lutes' press still drew success, the Pirates were still able to hang on to win despite PLU outscoring the visitors 37-33 in the second half.
Three Lutes finished in double figures with Kaelyn Voss leading the way with 16 points along with three assists and three steals. Lacey Nicholson added 14 points, nine rebounds, and five steals, while Samantha Kelleigh had 12 points and four steals off the bench.
PLU finished the game with 15 steals and won the turnover battle, forcing 27 Pirate turnovers while committing just 14. The Lutes enjoyed an 18-5 edge in bench production and held a 25-9 advantage in points off turnovers.
"For three quarters we showed a lot of grit, we showed that as soon as we get loose we can hit some shots," Head Coach Jennifer Childress said. "We need to be scrappy, battle, and take it personal when we're on the floor."
The Lutes showed great intensity in the second half, but their struggles in the first 10 minutes doomed them. The team now has three games left to show that they can put together a complete game from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
"Tomorrow would be great for a complete game," Childress said. "Our defense has to create that for us by jumpstarting the fast-break. Our defense generates running opportunities."
The Lutes take the floor at 4 p.m. tomorrow to see if they can pull off an upset against 15th-ranked Whitman College, who has the second best record in the NWC.