McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Gretchen Owens pumped in a game-high 28 points, including the go-ahead basket with 1:39 left, sparking Linfield to a see-saw 66-61 Northwest Conference victory over Pacific Lutheran Saturday night at Ted Wilson Gymnasium.
Owens and PLU’s Samantha Potter waged a scoring duel, with Potter netting 24 points, seven rebounds and three steals in the loss. Potter shot an efficient 10-of-16 from the field while Owens hit 7-of-16, including a pair of 3-pointers.
The Lutes raced to early leads of 9-2 and 16-4 before the game was yet five minutes old. The Wildcats rallied, reeling off seven straight points to pull within five, 16-11. Linfield got within one point at 20-19 before PLU reasserted itself to take a six-point edge, 25-19, with just over seven minutes left before the break.
PLU built its lead back to 11 following a pair of free throws from Chrissy Swope. The Lutes converted all 11 of their free throw attempts in the first half.
Owens potted 11 points in the period, including a flawless 6-of-6 at the free throw line. She ended the game 12-for-12 from the stripe.
Trailing 37-30 at the intermission, the Wildcats rallied to tie the contest at 42 on a basket by Katelyn Henson with 16:24 to to play. Owens’ bucket with 14:55 left gave the Wildcats a momentary 44-42 lead. The Lutes again surged back in front, 48-44, building their largest lead of the half.
Owens put Linfield back on top with a pair of free throws midway through the period, 51-50, though the game remained a one-possession affair.
Katelyn Smith’s jumper with 3:02 to play gave the visitors a 60-58 advantage but after a free throw by Chelsie McConville pulled Linfield within by one, Owens scored the next five points to put the Wildcats firmly in control. One final basket by Brynna Fuller with time ticking down provided the final margin.
Potter was the only Lute to reach double figures in scoring. Shelly Kilcup added nine points but struggled through a 3-for-10 shooting night. Sara Backstrom was 2-for-10 and finished with six points, five assists and four rebounds for PLU.
Henson scored a dozen points to complement Owens’ 28. Henson went 6-for-21 from the floor, but contributed four rebounds and three steals for the ‘Cats. Forward Kaely Maltman collared a game-high 11 rebounds while quietly adding nine points and three assists.
The game featured nine lead changes and six ties. It marked Linfield’s third straight victory over PLU, reversing a trend of 30 consecutive defeats to the Lutes in the series.
Both teams moved to 1-1 in conference action. Linfield saw its record move above .500 to 4-3 while the PLU fell to 3-2 for the season.
AHEAD: Linfield steps outside the Northwest Conference for a series of four games in December. The Wildcats host Concordia-Portland Wednesday night at 7:30, before welcoming Chapman and Colorado College for a Friday-Saturday set. La Sierra of California pays a visit on Dec. 28 to wrap up the nonconference schedule.