McMINNVILLE, Ore. - Jenele Peterson scored a team-high 17 points and Whitman held Linfield to 34.6 percent shooting in the second half, on its way to a 65-55 win in its Northwest Conference opener Friday night at Ted Wilson Gymnasium.
After averaging 85.3 points per game during a three-game winning streak, streaking Linfield (3-3, 0-1 NWC) struggled to solve the Whitman defense, shooting 37 percent on the night.
The 25th-ranked Missionaries’ defensive pressure led to easy scores, as Whitman (4-1, 1-0 NWC) tallied 15 points off 13 Linfield turnovers.
Coming out of the locker room with a three-point advantage, Whitman saw Linfield draw even on a Chrissy Baumgartner 3-pointer with 9:17 remaining. Gretchen Owens split the defense before finding Baumgartner open in the right corner, allowing the junior to tie the score at 45.
Following Baumgartner’s 3-pointer, the Wildcats would not score over the next 3:48. During that period scores from Sarah Anderegg and Rebecca Sexton extended the Whitman lead to 52-45 with 6:07 remaining.
A Micah Pringle steal and layup stopped the bleeding and the Wildcats would eventually cut the deficit to 54-51 on a pair of free throws by Kaely Maltman (Sr., Sandy, Ore.) at the 3:25 mark.
After the ‘Cats missed the front end of a one-and-one, Jennifer Keyes put the Missionaries up 57-51 with a clutch 3-pointer with 2:47 remaining.
Two more Whitman scores and a pair of missed Linfield free throws extended the lead to 10 with just over a minute to play. The ‘Cats were unable to pressure the Missionaries into enough turnovers during the final minute to pull off the comeback.
Whitman got quality efforts from multiple players throughout the night. Peterson led the way with 17 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including three 3-pointers and a 6-of-6 output from the foul line.
Owens did most of the damage for the Wildcats, scoring a game-high 24 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Maltman added 13 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.
Linfield struggled to find any offensive rhythm in the second half. The ‘Cats made just nine field goals while shooting 34.6 percent in the second half.
During the first half the Wildcats were able to overcome an early 10-point deficit, going into halftime trailing 31-28. A pair of early 3-pointers from Peterson gave the Missionaries a 19-9 lead to start the game.
After turning the ball over seven times in the game’s first 10 minutes, the Wildcats settled down on the offensive end, committing just two more turnovers before intermission.
Trailing 19-9 and coming out of a timeout, the Wildcats rallied for 11-straight points over the next four minutes. Linfield relentlessly attacked the basket during the run, scoring six of its 11 points from the free throw line. Pringle capped off the 11-0 spurt with her second 3-pointer of the half, giving Linfield a 20-19 advantage.
A 7-0 Whitman run during the final five minutes of the half gave the Missionaries a 29-24 lead with 1:20 remaining.
Peterson topped all scores with 13 points in the first half. Whitman shot 43.8 percent during the half, while Linfield shot at a 40 percent clip.
NEXT: Linfield returns to action Saturday for a 6 p.m. home game against Whitworth
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