WHITTIER, Calif. – Kaely Maltman scored a career-high 29 points and Gretchen Owens pumped in 23 but Linfield’s dynamic duo came out on the losing end of a see-saw 76-69 nonconference bout against the Whittier Poets Wednesday night at Graham Athletic Center.
The Wildcats (3-2) dropped their first game of the three-game swing through Southern California. The game, Linfield’s final tuneup prior to beginning conference play on Tuesday, featured seven lead changes.
Whittier (1-3) picked up its first win of the 2011-12 campaign, getting balanced scoring from its starters and a burst off the bench. Alex Coon scored 19 points, Brittany Aranda had 16, and backup Danielle Quinones contributed 13 points.
Linfield freshman Tyra Barawis pulled in a game-high 13 rebounds as the Wildcats topped the rebounding statistics 45-43. But the ‘Cats coughed up six more turnovers (23-17), leading directly to 25 Poet points.
Following a pair of free throws from freshman Alex Christensen, Linfield owned a seven-point bulge midway through the first half. Owens and Maltman each dropped in 10 points in the period yet Whittier lead 30-28 at the break.
With the exception of a two-point deficit at the 14:20 mark following Owen’s jumper, the Poets remained in control for virtually the entire second half.
Maltman kept the Wildcats within striking distance, knotting the game at 54 on a free throw with 10:21 remaining. But Whittier outscored Linfield 16-6 over the next seven minutes to take its largest lead at 70-60.
Though Maltman and Owens did their damage, the Wildcats got very little support as the Linfield bench was outscored by the Whittier reserves 14-0 in the period.
Owens, who was 8-of-8 at the free throw line, added eight rebounds and four steals. Maltman had five caroms and four assists.
COMING UP: The Wildcats open Northwest Conference play Tuesday in Forest Grove when they take on the Pacific Boxers at 6 p.m. Play-by-play action can be heard on Linfield’s internet broadcast starting at 5:50. All conference games, home and away, are scheduled to be streamed on the internet with Devin Higgins handling the play-by-play.