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TACOMA, Wash. – Despite getting steady guard play from Quincey Gibson and Taylor Solomon to balance out a double-double from Kaely Maltman, Linfield found itself on the losing end of a 70-59 women's basketball bout with Puget Sound as Northwest Conference action resumed Saturday night inside Memorial Fieldhouse.
Maltman finished with game highs of 17 points and 18 rebounds, while Gibson and Solomon hit three 3-pointers apiece as the Wildcats dropped to 0-2 in league play, 4-7 overall.
Led by Alexis Noren's 11 points, the Loggers (8-3, 1-1 NWC) had a trio of double-digit scorers, getting an additional 10 points each from Allie Wyszynski and Katy Ainslie.
An early 10-10 tie ballgame quickly dissipated as the Loggers strung together a 5-0 run on a successive 3-pointer and layup from Olivia Roberts and Hannah Lekson, respectively.
Maltman and Ainslie traded buckets before the teams embarked on a nearly a three-minute scoreless stretch for both clubs. Neither team shot particularly well from beyond the arc, even failing to draw iron on a couple of tries, before Taylor Jones knocked in a 3-pointer with 7:25 to go, pushing the scoring gap to nine points and forcing another Wildcat timeout.
A step-through move from Maltman earned the Wildcats their first trip to the free throw line with 6:26 to go. Though the junior made good on only one shot, it gave Linfield life after a near four-minute scoring drought, and a turnaround jumper from Jessica McMillan on the next trip down the floor brought the ‘Cats to within eight, 23-15.
The teams played mostly even the rest of the half, with the Loggers holding a comfortable 10-point lead, 31-21, headed into the locker room.
Puget Sound used a monster 15-4 run over the opening five minutes of second-half action to gain a game-changing 21-point advantage, 46-25. Gibson sank a 3-pointer on one end of the floor and stole the ball on the other, setting up Solomon for a transition layup with 14:35 remaining. After Wyszynski's jumper pushed the UPS lead back to 18 points, the teams struggled through another scoreless stretch for nearly four minutes.
Gibson drained another long-range bucket to spark the offense again, but Linfield failed to get closer than 15 points until the final two minutes of the game. Down 14 points, the ‘Cats got back-to-back 3-pointers from Solomon and Gibson and a layup from McMillan to get the deficit below 10 points for the first time of the half.
Two free throws from Noren sealed the deal for the Loggers, however, and dealt Linfield its second conference loss of the year.
COMING UP: Linfield returns to Oregon for its first back-to-back action of Northwest Conference play, traveling to Salem for a Friday tilt against Willamette before returning to the friendly confines of Ted Wilson Gymnasium Saturday for a bout with Lewis & Clark. Both games are set for a 6 p.m. start.