NEWBERG, Ore. – A game-high 21-point effort by Linfield's Kaely Maltman went for naught as Wheaton College of Illinois overcame an early deficit to take a commanding lead in the first half and never looked back in a 74-57 victory during the season-opening game for both schools at the George Fox University Classic.
Wheaton's Lauren Graham netted a team-high 14 points off the bench in relief of starting center Hannah Considine, who was saddled with early foul trouble. Graham hit 7-of-8 shots from the field while also passing out a team-best five assists.
Maltman was the only Wildcat to reach double figures in scoring. All-star forward Katelyn Henson was plagued with early foul problems and spent portions of both halves anchored to the bench. Henson, who finished with just six points on 2-of-10 shooting, did pull down a game-high 10 rebounds.
The Wildcats started off hot, scoring the first five points with baskets by Maltman and Henson. Linfield eventually led by six, 13-7, only to watch as Wheaton went on a 13-2 run that pushed the Thunder on top, 21-15, with 8:10 left in the period. Wheaton buckled down at both ends of the court, scoring 15 unanswered points and opening up a comfortable 40-23 halftime advantage. Graham scored eight of her 15 points during the five-minute explosion. Only Maltman's two free throws with eight seconds remaining halted the Wildcats' lengthy scoring drought.
Wheaton shot .484 from the field to Linfield's .360 during the first half.
The swings of momentum evened out in the second half with both teams scoring 34 points. The closest Linfield came to catching Wheaton was when Maltman cut up the floor for a layup with 7:08 on the clock, cutting the margin to 15.
Grace McMillan contributed five points off the bench for the ‘Cats in the second half and grabbed two rebounds. Catie Mets had seven points, three assists and one steal while rookie Quincey Gibson scored eight points and collared four rebounds during her collegiate debut
Wheaton's reserves outscored Linfield's bench 41-13 and the taller Thunder outrebounded the Wildcats 46-34. Mavis Hovee had 10 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots while Maria Panaggio totaled eight points, five rebounds and five assists off the bench for the Thunder.
AHEAD: Linfield meets California Lutheran Saturday in the consolation game of the George Fox Classic. Tipoff is at 4 p.m.