Written by Student Assistant Jake Bilyeu
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Pacific Lutheran University women's basketball team wrapped up its final weekend road trip on Saturday night with a hard-fought 63-59 setback against Northwest Conference rival Willamette University. The Lutes and Bearcats traded the lead eight times and were tied at five different moments, including midway through the fourth quarter in a tense, back and forth matchup inside the Cone Field House.
"We really battled well today and we kept our composure throughout every quarter, right down to the wire," head coach Jennifer Childress said. "It's one of those games that was fun to be a part of."
Anna Hurd provided her best offensive outing of the season, scoring 19 points on seven-of-10 shooting. Hurd neared a double-double with nine rebounds, and also earned three steals.
"Anna definitely brought an attack mentality to our offense," Childress said. "Everyone was excited to see her hard work pay off."
Madison Salisbury followed Hurd up with 18 points, hitting eight of her 17 shots to tie her third highest scoring output of the season. Salisbury also grabbed six rebounds, second most for the Lutes (5-18, 1-13 NWC) on the night while Emma Janousek scored nine points.
Pacific Lutheran utilized an 11-0 run in the opening quarter to stake a double-digit lead with 1:45 remaining on a Madison Green-Hayward jumper and held an 18-10 advantage after 10 minutes of play. The script was flipped in the second quarter with the Bearcats (14-9, 10-4 NWC) battling back to take a 29-28 lead into the locker room.
Neither team led by more than five points in the second half. A Janousek free throw with 5:15 left in the game gave the Lutes a four-point buffer but the host Bearcats closed the game by outscoring PLU 12-4 to secure the win, taking the lead for good on a three-pointer by Kylie Towry with 49 seconds remaining.
The Lutes and Bearcats matched each other in almost every stat on the night, but the Bearcats earned victory over the Lutes by earning assists on half of their 22 field goals and by earning a few more trips to the free-throw line (18 to 15). The Lute defense still forced the Bearcats to work for their buckets, which allowed them to match their hosts in made shots while shooting more efficiently from three-point range. PLU shot 57.1 percent (four-for-seven) from beyond the arc while the hosts hit 31.6 percent from distance (six-for-19).
"Willamette hit some clutch shots that we contested," Childress said. "Give credit to them they knocked them down."
The Lutes will return to Tacoma for their final home game of the season against the University Puget Sound on Tuesday night at 6 p.m.