PORTLAND, Ore. – An 11-4 run to begin the second half pushed Lewis & Clark in front by double digits and the No. 8 Pioneers never relinquished control the rest of the way in a 67-54 Northwest Conference victory over Linfield Saturday night inside Pamplin Sports Center.
The Pioneers kept firm grip on first place in the NWC standings, improving to 9-1 in conference play and 18-1 for the season. Linfield was left looking for its first conference victory, dropping to 0-9 in the NWC and 1-14 overall.
A game-high 18 points and nine rebounds from Katelyn Henson, plus another 16 points from Taylor Solomon, highlighted the Linfield scoring ledger. But the Wildcats’ bench accounted for just four points compared with 16 for the L&C reserves. Kaely Maltman pulled in nine rebounds while adding seven assists and a couple of blocked shots. Maltman was limited to just seven points at the offensive end of the court, converting just 3 of 9 shots.
Pioneers all-star Kristina Williams canned a three-pointer with 15:54 left, opening up the Pioneers’ largest lead of the game, 45-35. Linfield came no closer than eight points after that. Williams pumped in a team-high 17 points to go with a game-best 11 rebounds and three assists. Zippy point guard Sara Villanueva added 15 points and five assists, and Katie Anderson contributed 12 points, five rebounds and five steals off the L&C bench.
The Wildcats kept pace with the heavily favored Pioneers in the first half and trailed by a scant three points at the break, 34-31. Solomon keyed the Linfield offense through the opening 20 minutes with 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting.
A layup by Catie Mets at the 13:13 mark of the first half pulled the Wildcats into a tie, 11-11, but the Pioneers went on a 7-2 run to open up a 19-13 advantage. Linfield outscored L&C 12-5 to close the period giving the visitors a more-than-reasonble shot at the upset in the second half.
AHEAD: The Wildcats head to Tacoma Friday night to take on Pacific Lutheran before returning to Oregon the following evening to battle defending NWC champion and NCAA runner-up George Fox. Tip off both nights is set for 6 p.m.