Written by Student Assistant Jake Bilyeu
WHITTIER, Calif. – The Pacific Lutheran University women's basketball team wrapped up its non-conference schedule on New Year's Eve with a tough 56-48 setback to host Whittier College. Despite a double digit lead in the first half, the Lutes could not overcome a late run from the Poets.
"They hit big shots and we missed easy shots," head coach Jennifer Childress said. "We played way too tentatively, and walked the ball up against their press and without bringing an attack mentality."
The Lutes (4-7) blazed the nets in the opening half, shooting at a 54.5 percent clip (12-for-22) while limiting the host Poets (5-8) to shooting just 29.6 percent (eight-for-27) from the field. PLU built a 16-10 advantage after one quarter of play and led by as many as 12-points in the second, enjoying a 33-25 buffer at the halftime intermission. The host Poets seized the lead in the third, outscoring the Lutes 20-11, and never looked back to secure the win in a game with five lead changes and three ties.
Madison Salisbury continued power the Lute offense through their road trip, this time hitting six of nine shots to finish with 13 points, while also grabbing nine rebounds. Kristin Sturdivan followed with 11 points of her own and also grabbed two steals. Off the bench, Kylie Rademacher hit three of her four shots to finish with nine points, five rebounds, and three assists while Hailey Marsh hit two key shots, including a three pointer, to finish with five points.
Despite the standout performances, the Lutes offense struggled to score in the second half, and the Poets took full advantage, outscoring the Lutes 31-15 in the final 20 minutes.
"When they made their run in the third, we lost our composure and went away from getting the ball to our posts," Childress said. "Defensively they attacked us off the dribble and we got caught fouling and giving up and one opportunities."
The Lutes will now fly home to Tacoma to prepare for their return to Northwest Conference play, which picks up again next weekend. The Lutes will travel south to Oregon for matchups against Linfield College on Friday and George Fox University on Saturday.