NEWBERG, Ore. – Surviving a furious rally, Cal Lutheran allowed Linfield to chop down a 17-point halftime deficit to just three points before hanging on for a 69-61 victory in Game 3 of the George Fox Classic Saturday night at the Wheeler Sports Center.
Katelyn Henson scored 15 of her game-high 23 points over the final 20 minutes, but the Wildcats (0-2) ran out of time and steam, and left far too many points at the charity stripe, to complete the comeback.
Henson and Kaely Maltman each finished one rebound shy of a double-double, bringing in nine boards each. Henson was just about the only Wildcat to find success at the free throw line, shooting 5-for-6, while Maltman scored 12 of her 14 points from the field.
Chelsea Jacoby led a trio of double-digit scorers for the Regals, scoring 17 points on 6-of-14 shooting from the floor, including 3-of-4 from long range. Keely Anderson added 15 points and Sofia Cruz netted 10 more as Cal Lutheran bounced back from a season-opening loss to George Fox to improve to 1-1 on the year.
Cal Lutheran's stifling defense prevented Linfield from hitting double digits on the scoreboard until 6:57 remained in the first half, when Catie Mets knocked down a 3-pointer to bring the score to 23-10. But Jacoby responded with a 3-pointer on the opposite end of the court, capping off a solo run of eight consecutive points for the Regals, to bring Cal Lutheran's advantage back to 16 points.
After scoring the game's first four points, the Regals owned at least a 10-point advantage through the majority of the half, the spread maxing out at 18 points with 2:19 left on the clock. Cal Lutheran shot at just a bit higher clip than Linfield, 45.9 percent compared to 40.0 percent, but the Regals benefitted from five 3-point buckets to just one for the Wildcats.
Down 42-25 at the halftime break, the ‘Cats found their second-half offensive groove quickly, but needed a few minutes to lock down their defense to start whittling away at Cal Lutheran's massive lead. With the teams trading buckets, including ones from Henson and Riley Graham (Sr., Scio, Ore.) for Linfield and Anderson for Cal Lutheran, the Regals opened up a 21-point advantage, their largest of the game.
But beginning with a layup from Graham, the Wildcats strung together an impressive 17-0 run over the next 4½ minutes, making it a 53-49 game with 12:04 remaining. The clubs remained with five or six points of each other until a Maltman layup with 5:28 pulled the Wildcats within three. But three successive 3-pointers from Anderson and Sam Hernandez gave the Regals a sizable advantage with 3:41 on the clock, and only a 3-point bucket from Grace McMillan with time winding down prevented the loss from being a double-digit affair for Linfield.
For the game, the Wildcats outshot the Regals 42.9 percent to 40.9 percent from the floor, but Cal Lutheran was far more accurate beyond the arc and the free throw line. Linfield converted on just nine of their 20 opportunities from the stripe, including 5-for-11 in the second half.
Graham finished with nine points, all on 3-pointers, and Mets added six points. Maltman was chosen to the five-player, all-tournament team.
AHEAD: Linfield opens the home calendar with a Wednesday night matchup against Corban. Game time in Ted Wilson Gymnasium is set for 7 p.m.