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FOREST GROVE, Ore. – Paige Jensen and Kaila Johnson scored a dozen points apiece and the Pacific Boxers cruised to a 57-41 Northwest Conference victory over the visiting Linfield Wildcats Saturday evening at the Stoller Center.
Jensen, a second team all-NWC pick in 2011-12 who the NWC in rebounding at 10.8 per game, collared 10 boards to complete a double-double.
Katelyn Henson led the ‘Cats in scoring with 11 points and Tegan Grunwald contributed a career-high nine points in her first start. Kaely Maltman was limited to three points but nonetheless grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds. Linfield dropped its fifth straight contest to drop to 1-10 on the season and 0-5 in NWC play.
In the early going, point guard Taylor Solomon ignited Linfield’s offense with two buckets from long range on consecutive possessions, and the ‘Cats were out to an early 6-0 lead.
Pacific (10-4, 3-3 NWC) started the game ice cold from the floor, missing its first five shots. Jensen sunk a jumper to snap Linfield’s 8-0 run and get the Boxers on the board five minutes into the game.
After Alex Pfefferle hit a three, Grunwald responded with a three of her own and stretched Linfield’s advantage out to 11-5. The ‘Cats couldn’t pull away from the Boxers moving through the middle part of the first, as a pair of free throws from Aunhea Wall cut the spread to four, 13-9.
As the half drew to a close, Pacific began to find its long-range shooting touch. Back-to-back threes from Nani Ostrom and another from Johnson gave the Boxers their first lead of the game at 20-18. Henson knocked down a jumper with less than 30 seconds left and Pacific took a slim 21-20 lead into the break.
Grunwald and Solomon led the ‘Cats with six points each, and Henson grabbed a game-high six rebounds in the first. Linfield outrebounded Pacific 21-15 and posted a slightly better shooting percentage, 34.8 to 25.9.
The Boxers came out of the break strong, edging their way to a 29-23 lead five minutes into the second. Pacific continued to pull away and a pair of free throws from Olivia Cook put the hosts out in front by nine midway through the second stanza.
Solomon hit another three but Heather Hitch responded with a jumper to raise the spread to 40-30. Just when the ‘Cats appeared to be back in the game, Jensen and Hitch hit two consecutive jumpers to reestablish a 10-point advantage.
The Boxers kept control down the stretch and maintained their lead through the closing minutes. Free throws proved to be key as the Boxers hit 13-of-15 while Linfield converted only five-of-nine.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Spanning the previous 10 seasons, the ‘Cats own a winning record (14-6) against the Boxers, including a nine-game triumphant run during the mid-2000s…Maltman is currently second all-time in average minutes played per game…her 33.5 minutes per game is bested only by Gretchen Owens’ 36.1…as a team, the 2012-13 Wildcats are on pace to finish among the top 10 all-time in the category of average rebounds per game…the club’s current mark of 39.8 would currently rank seventh since the inception of the program…Henson and Maltman have combined for five double-doubles this season.
AHEAD: The ‘Cats are set to take on Whitman and Whitworth next weekend, Jan. 18-19, in eastern Washington. Both games are set to begin at 6 p.m., and will be followed by the men’s games. The live webcast, with Jerry Young’s play-by-play, starts at approximately 5:50.