McMINNVILLE, Ore. – With Sarah Curl leading the way with 19 of her game-high 25 points over the final 20 minutes, Pacific scored seemingly at will to transform an eight-point, late first-half deficit into an 87-69 victory over homestanding Linfield Saturday evening inside Ted Wilson Gymnasium.
Curl finished 11-for-16 from the field, including 3-for-6 from downtown, to top a stellar 21-point performance from Katelyn Henson. Henson also had a great second half, scoring 12 points in the final 20 minutes as part of a 7-for-12 effort from the floor.
Finishing two points off its season-high point total, Pacific (4-12, 1-7 NWC) earned its first Northwest Conference victory of the year. Linfield, meanwhile, slipped to 6-11 overall and 2-6 in league action.
Kati Sheldon had four points early on as Pacific claimed the first advantage and held it through the opening four minutes. Linfield then owned the middle minutes before the Boxers stormed back over the final five minutes and never looked back.
Linfield picked up right where it left off against Pacific Lutheran the night before, sinking six of its first seven 3-point attempts. The second, from Quincey Gibson (Sr., Issaquah, Wash.), knotted the score at 10-10, and a bomb from Jessica McMillan on the Wildcats' next possession gave the home team its first lead of the game with about five minutes gone.
Back-to-back Kaely Maltman layups off low-block post moves sandwiched Curl's put-back – from her own missed 3-pointer – on the opposite end of the court as the Wildcat lead hovered around six points. A Taylor Solomon layup pushed the spread to eight, 32-24, but that is where it turned sour for the Wildcats.
Scrappy and opportunistic, the Boxers extended possessions and heated up from both inside and outside, storming back from an eight-point deficit in a massive momentum shift. Sheldon sparked the 21-3 run, but it was successive 3-pointers from Alex Pfefferle that put the game back in Pacific control, 37-35, with two minutes remaining.
Defensively, the Boxers' full-court, pressure defense forced the ‘Cats into tough shots early in the shot clock possession, holding Linfield without a field goal over the final 5:14 of action. The Wildcats' lone three points during the closing minutes came from the free throw line.
Henson's solo 5-0 run cut Linfield's deficit in half within three minutes of second-half action. Olivia Cook, however, converted three easy layups – two on inbounds plays – to prevent the Wildcats from getting any closer.
With 12:15 minutes to play, Henson cashed in on free-throw line extended jumper out of a baseline inbounds to bring the scoring gap into single digits, but Curl and Annette Highley hit back-to-back 3-pointers, dealing a serious blow to the Wildcats' comeback hopes. After Henson sank a jumper to momentarily stop the bleeding, Curl and Highley repeated the feat, giving the Boxers an 18-point lead, 68-50, with 9:24 to play.
Solomon and Henson provided some offensive highlights for the Wildcats down the stretch, but the teams matched one another basket-for-basket to keep the final outcome at an 18-point spread. For the game, the Boxers hit 55.2 percent of their shot attempts, compared to just 43.3 percent by the Wildcats. Pacific also held a massive advantage on the glass, 42-27, hauling in more offensive rebounds (27) than Linfield's total (25) for both offense and defense.
Cook was Pacific's second double-digit scorer, totaling 14 points on 5-for-10 shooting.
Maltman finished with 16 points before fouling out with 4:53 to play, while Solomon added 12 more after a career-high 27-point performance the previous night at Pacific Lutheran.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Maltman has scored in double figures in 16 of 17 games this year…Linfield was left searching for its first back-to-back wins of the Northwest Conference season…Pacific extended its win streak over Linfield to five games…the Wildcats' last win against the Boxers came during the 2010-11 season.
AHEAD: Linfield plays host to Yamhill County rival George Fox in a rare weeknight contest Tuesday evening beginning at 6 p.m.