McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Notching career-highs of 22 points and 16 rebounds, Linfield guard Katelyn Henson powered the Wildcats to a 57-53 nonconference victory over visiting Northwest Christian Saturday evening at Ted Wilson Gymnasium.
Catie Mets tallied 11 points and Alex Christensen chipped in with 10, helping Linfield (1-5) earn its first win of the young season. The ‘Cats shot 35 percent from the field to the Beacons’ 33 percent.
Katie Collins (19) and Lindsey Shearer (18) led the way for NCU, which fell to 6-6 on the season.
Both offenses were ice cold during the opening five minutes. The ‘Cats nudged their way in front, 4-2, following buckets by Kaely Maltman and Henson.
Linfield extended its lead to 12-4 on a deep jumper from Henson and a three-pointer from Jessica McMillan (Jr., McMinnville, Ore.), part of a 5-0 run. Mets knocked down a three from the corner to push the spread to 16-4, forcing Beacons’ ninth-year head coach Liz Turner-Bolton to call timeout.
The ‘Cats remained consistent offensively, building a 10-point advantage with six minutes to play in the first period. Christensen knocked down a shot and then assisted on a catch-and-shoot by Mets that extended the hosts’ lead to 22-9.
Despite a strong effort by the Beacons to battle back, the ‘Cats kept control throughout the half.
A three from Henson with 20 seconds left gave her 13 points at the intermission and Linfield headed to the locker room with a solid 33-20 lead.
A dozen Wildcats scored points in the first half and Linfield outshot NCU from the field, 37 percent to 27 percent. The ‘Cats grabbed 31 rebounds in the opening period compared with 14 for the Beacons.
A three-point basket by Christensen in the first minute of the second half upped Linfield’s advantage to 16 points.
Northwest Christian refused to go away quietly and a three from Aly Bruns with 15 minutes to play narrowed the spread to 10.
A three by Mets with just under five minutes remaining kept the ‘Cats in front by a dozen, however, Bruns drained another shot from behind the arc to cut the lead down to nine.
The Beacons didn’t stop there. Three-pointers on back-to-back possessions from Collins and Bruns brought NCU to within three points with 4:03 to play, 52-49, the game's narrowest margin since the ‘Cats led 5-2 in the opening minutes.
An ensuing layup from Shearer with 3:33 left cut the Wildcats’ advantage to one, 52-51. It was the closest the Beacons would come to capturing the lead.
Linfield closed out the game with solid defense and a layup by Christensen with 20 seconds left sealed the deal.
‘CAT SCRATCH: The ‘Cats and Beacons have played four games dating back to 2008-09, three of which were decided by two points or less…Northwest Christian leads the all-time series 3-2…Henson’s previous career high was 18, recorded during the Wildcats’ first game of 2012-13…with 16 rebounds, Henson recorded her first career double-double.
COMING UP: Linfield hits the road to take on Evergreen on Thursday, Dec. 20, in Olympia, Wash. The non-conference matchup tips off at 4 p.m.