McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Kayla Sherman scored a dozen points and the visiting Pacific Lutheran University Lutes outshot Linfield on its home floor, handing the ‘Cats a 56-52 Northwest Conference defeat Saturday evening at Ted Wilson Gymnasium.
Taylor Solomon turned in a career-high 10 points for the ‘Cats, and Katelyn Henson and Kaely Maltman grabbed 12 rebounds apiece for Linfield.
Samantha Potter, a second-team all-NWC selection a year ago, got into early foul trouble and was limited to eight points and eight rebounds. The junior post is averaging a double-double this season with 14.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.
An early bucket from Potter put the Lutes up 4-3, and came after Solomon got the Wildcats’ offense going with a three pointer from the corner.
Linfield (1-8, 0-3 NWC) regained the lead thanks to a layup from Catie Mets five minutes into the game. The ‘Cats responded after a 5-0 Lutes run to tie the score at 11 on a pair of free throws from Solomon.
Alex Christensen knocked down a mid-range jumper with about eight minutes remaining that brought the score to 20-17 in favor of PLU. A steal and breakaway layup from the sophomore point guard a minute later helped the ‘Cats keep pace into the final minutes of the half.
A pair of free throws from Michaela Edgers gave the Lutes a 29-22 advantage with less than three minutes until the break. The seven- point spread was PLU’s largest lead of the game, and the Lutes finished strong to take a 33-24 edge into halftime.
Potter was held to just two points in the first, but she led the Lutes with four rebounds. PLU shot 42.9 percent from the field and 33 percent from beyond the arc. Comparatively, Linfield shot 33 percent from the field and just 16 percent from downtown.
The Lutes (4-7, 1-3 NWC) started the second half with a bang as freshman guard Hannah Munson drained a shot from downtown in the first minute. Linfield battled back, however, and a layup from Maltman had the ‘Cats within four, 38-34.
PLU maintained a steady six-point cushion through the middle part of the second, as Linfield attempted to chip away and get back in front. With 7:30 remaining, Maltman converted a layup to bring the Wildcats within two, 44-42.
The game began to slip out of Linfield’s reach moving into the final minutes, as the Lutes built a 52-45 advantage with 1:25 remaining. PLU maintained possession and held off the Wildcats’ offense for the final minute to ensure the victory.
Maltman finished with a game-high 13 points, while Henson was right behind her with a dozen. The Lutes outrebounded the Wildcats 40-36, with Linfield shooting slightly better from the floor: 41.2 percent compared with 39.6 from PLU.
‘CAT SCRATCH: The history between the ‘Cats and Lutes is one of streaks, as the ‘Cats have had streaks of four and eight straight victories, two runs that were broken up by a massive 28-game string by the Lutes through the late 1990s and 2000s…the loss snapped Linfield’s five-game winning streak against PLU dating back to the 2009-10 season…Linfield and PLU have two of the youngest rosters in the NWC, each featuring just one senior on their respective rosters...Willamette is the third conference team in the same situation.
NEXT UP: Linfield hosts Puget Sound next Friday, Jan. 11 before hitting the road for seven straight NWC games. Tipoff against the Loggers is set for 6 p.m. at Ted Wilson Gymnasium.