McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Putting together two complete halves and registering its highest scoring total in three years, the final result for Linfield in its season finale was never really in question as the Wildcats sent off senior Kaely Maltman with a 92-68 Northwest Conference victory Saturday evening inside Ted Wilson Gymnasium.
True to form, Maltman recorded a double-double in her final game as a Wildcat, totaling 13 points and 10 rebounds. Taylor Solomon led all players with 26 points, including 10 free throws, and
(Sr., Issaquah, Wash.) made four 3-pointers on her way to a career-high 20 points.
Pacific Lutheran's all-star Samantha Potter had a team-high points to go along with 13 rebounds, and fellow senior Katelyn Smith contributed another double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Shooting better than 50 percent from the floor and nearly 90 percent from the stripe, Linfield built a sizeable lead through the first 20 minutes of action. The Wildcats shot lights-out from 3-point range, knocking down 7-of-10 attempts, including three alone from Gibson.
The ‘Cats committed eight turnovers over the first 9½ minutes, but stayed ahead by limiting the Lutes to just two field goals – out of 18 attempts – up until the first timeout at the 10:39 mark of the opening period. After Riley Graham (Sr., Scio, Ore.) opened up the scoring for both teams with a 3-point make, Pacific Lutheran scored the next seven points for a 7-3 lead.
Then it was Linfield's turn. Katelyn Henson knocked in a jumper in the paint, sparking Linfield to a 14-0 run that gained the home team a 17-7 advantage.
Potter's layup at 9:29 gave the Lutes their first points in nearly seven minutes. On the opposite end of the court, Gibson missed a trey from the left wing, but Maltman corralled the rebound and kicked it back out to her freshman teammate, who made good on her second try.
Andrea Adams responded with a 3-pointer for the Lutes, setting the scene for an entertaining back-and-forth battle over the next few minutes. With the teams trading baskets for the first time all game, Linfield's lead hovered around 10 points. But the Wildcats stayed hot from beyond the arc, and after Solomon knocked in yet another 3-pointer, Linfield owned a 15-point advantage, 35-20, and was never threatened again.
By halftime, the ‘Cats led 47-33, getting 13 points from Solomon and 11 more from Gibson. Potter, meanwhile, had 12 points by the break for the Lutes.
A pair of Smith free throws cut the lead to 12 points 34 seconds into the second half, but that is as close as the Lutes got the rest of the way. Though Linfield cooled off after intermission, the 'Cats still opened with an 8-2 run that pushed the spread to 20 points, 55-35.
Pacific Lutheran twice brought the Wildcats' advantage down to 15 points, once on a three-point play from Megan Abdo and again on Smith's layup with 9:49 to go.
Otherwise, it was all Linfield, which in completing the season sweep against the Lutes finished in sixth place in the Northwest Conference with a 9-16 overall record, including 5-11 in games against league opponents. Pacific Lutheran finished in eight place at 7-18 overall and 3-13 in conference action.
Four Wildcats finished in double figures, including Solomon (26), Gibson (20), Maltman (13) and Graham (10). Maltman also dished out eight assists.
In addition to Potter and Smith, Sarah Barnes posted a double-digit scoring performance for the Lutes with 10 points.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Maltman finished her four-year career as Linfield's third all-time leading scorer and rebounder with 1,265 points and 660 rebounds…the Wildcats earned their second sweep of the season…Linfield's 47 first-half points were a season high…the ‘Cats scored the most points since a 95-58 win over Willamette on Jan. 8, 2011...Linfield outrebounded Pacific Lutheran 50-40.