OLYMPIA, Wash. – Katelyn Henson and Kaely Maltman combined for 33 points and 15 rebounds but a valiant comeback effort by the Linfield Wildcats fell just short as Evergreen State held on a for a 55-50 nonconference victory Sunday afternoon at CRC Gymnasium.
Evergreen State (3-6), which entered the game on a three-game losing slide, rode the 18 points of Danielle Swain to the home-court victory.
Linfield (1-6) began the game icy cold from the field and the trend continued for much of the first half. The Wildcats quickly found themselves in a double-digit deficit. And though Linfield battled back to force a tie midway through the second period, the ‘Cats never could assume command of the contest.
Held to just a single field goal and one free throw through the game’s first 12 minutes, Linfield struggled to get its motor started, falling behind 20-3 at the midway point of the opening half. The Wildcats then went on a 14-5 tear to crawl back into contention. Catie Mets planted three straight jumpers during the run and Henson added four points to pull Linfield back to within 12 at intermission, 29-17.
TESC shot 54 percent in the game’s first 20 minutes, compared with Linfield’s frosty 27 percent. Behind Henson’s six boards, the ‘Cats outrebounded the Geoducks 18-14.
Linfield opened the second period on a 7-1 run, drawing within 30-24.
Nicole Barton knocked down a 10-foot jumper, slicing the margin to four. Maltman canned 1 of 2 free throws with 11 minutes remaining, knotting the game at 35.
Evergreen State responded by scoring the next six points, forcing Wildcats coach Robin Potera-Haskins to call a timeout. Trailing by eight, Taylor Solomon converted a three-point play to make it 45-40 with just over eight minutes left.
Henson swished a jumper from 15 feet with 2:13 to go to bring the ‘Cats within one, 49-48, but Danielle Swain converted a pair of free throws at the other end to keep Linfield at bay. Maltman answered with a layup off a Henson feed, but a layup by Sadee Jones put the Geoducks back in front by three, 53-50. Henson attempted a three-pointer with 30 seconds that had the potential to tie the game, but the ball was short of the rim and possession was awarded to TESC.
Three free throws inside the final minute by the Geoducks gave the Wildcats hope, but Swain’s charity toss with 13 seconds made it a two-possession game. Henson’s layup with six seconds bounced off the backboard and away, thwarting Linfield’s comeback bid.
Linfield improved its shooting percentage considerably after intermission, hitting 47 percent while holding Evergreen State to just 29 percent.
Henson paced Linfield with 19 points and nine rebounds, hitting 7-of-16 from the field. Maltman added 14 points, six rebounds and four assists. Jessica McMillan (Sr., McMinnville, Ore.) came off the Linfield bench for four points and two rebounds. Mets totaled eight points, three steals and one assist.
Swain’s 18 points carried TESC. Jones added 14 points and six rebounds while Sammi Clark had 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Geoducks.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Evergreen State leads the all-time series 4-3. . . Linfield won last season’s meeting in McMinnville 58-51. . . among Evergreen State’s most prestigious alumni is Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons. . . Groening’s parents, Homer and Marge, each graduated from Linfield. . . Mets and reserve Katie Bergquist, both Olympia natives, were playing in front of their hometown fans. . . Linfield outscored Evergreen 33-26 in the second half.
NEXT: Linfield returns to Northwest Conference play Friday night at Ted Wilson Gymnasium when the Wildcats host defending champion George Fox at 6 p.m. Live video coverage begins at 5:55 with Jerry Young providing the play-by-play.