Written by Student Assistant Jake Bilyeu
TACOMA, Wash. – The Pacific Lutheran University women's basketball team returned home for its first game at Olson Gymnasium in nearly a month on Friday night, falling 51-43 to Northwest Conference rival Willamette University in a game featuring four lead changes and four ties. The Lute defense was dominant throughout the game, but struggles on the other side of the floor kept the Lutes from securing the victory.
"When you hold a shooting team to just three-of-18 from the three-point line, you know that you've executed your defensive game plan correctly," Head Coach Jennifer Childress said. "I'm very proud that we held them to just 51 points, but on the flip side, we simply need to put the ball in the hole."
The Bearcats (7-6, 3-1 NWC) owned a 14-8 lead after one quarter of play but the host Lutes (4-9, 0-4 NWC) battled back, taking the lead with 6:50 remaining in the first half on a pair of Kylee Johnson free throws. The shots wouldn't fall the rest of the half as Willamette utilized a 13-2 run to enjoy a 29-19 lead at the break. PLU's stingy defense allowed Willamette to score just four points in the third quarter as the Lutes' continued to close the gap, pulling within a possession at 38-36 with 6:13 remaining in the game. Unfortunately PLU was unable to come any closer as Willamette extended its lead back up to double digits en route to the eight-point win.
Kylie Rademacher led the Lutes in scoring on Friday night, coming off of the bench to hit six-of-13 shots to finish with 15 points, helping the Lute bench outscore the Bearcat bench 24-18. Rademacher also led the team in assists with four, all while grabbing five offensive rebounds, helping the Lutes stay even with on the boards with the Bearcats for the game.
Heading into Saturday's showdown with Lewis & Clark College, the Lutes will need to make finishing offensive possessions their top priority after shooting just 27 percent (17-for-62) from the floor in Friday's game.
"It's a confidence thing," Childress said. "The team's that are finishing games are the ones who are executing in the end and hitting their shots."
The Lutes take the floor Saturday at 4 p.m. eyeing their first conference win against Lewis & Clark, who currently sit fourth in NWC standings.