McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Micha Pringle came off the bench to score 25 of her game-high 37 points in the first half but the Linfield Wildcats had to sweat out a 68-66 nonconference victory Monday night over Northwest Christian at Ted Wilson Gymnasium.
Linfield (6-4) watched a 20-point second-half lead melt away in the final 12 minutes, 40 seconds. The outcome was very much in doubt when NCU’s Lori Renner knocked back 3-pointer from the top of the arc with 12 seconds to play to bring the visitors to within one point, their smallest deficit since the game’s first five minutes. But Linfield’s Abby Olbrich made 1-of-2 free throw attempts with eight ticks to go and the Beacons couldn’t get off a last-second shot to complete the upset bid.
Pringle’s 37 points marked the third-highest scoring effort on record, and perhaps more importantly, Linfield equaled its win total from all of last season in the Wildcats’ last competition before the Christmas break. Pringle’s point total fell just short of the Linfield single-game standard of 41, set by Hall of Famer Tina Rappin against the University of Portland in 1985.
Making 7 of its first 10 field goals, Linfield raced to a 19-10 advantage during the game’s opening 8½ minutes. Pringle came off the bench to account for nine points during the early spurt.
A junior transfer who was enrolled at Linfield last season but was sidelined with injuries, Pringle mixed in a variety of fast-break layups, short-range jumpers and long 3-pointers on her way to one of the most impressive halves of basketball in Linfield history. She hit 9-of-11 shots from the field in the opening period, including three breakaway layups.
The Wildcats led by as many as 14 in the first half. Pringle’s shot from close range with 8:22 left in the first half staked the hosts to a 26-12 lead. The Beacons, led by eight first-half points from Hope Williams, closed the gap to five, 34-29, with just under two minutes remaining. Consecutive steals and length-of-the-floor layups by Pringle put Linfield ahead again by double digits, 40-29, at the break.
Linfield needed every bit of offense it could muster in the second half. After shooting 57 percent from the floor during the first 20 minutes, the Wildcats’ shooting percentage drooped to 34 percent in the closing 20. Linfield was 6-of-7 at the free throw line in the first half; the ‘Cats were 8-of-16 at the stripe in the second half.
Williams ended with a team-high 13 points and eight rebounds to lead the Beacons (4-6). Sheena Alexander totaled 12 points off the bench for NCU, which coughed up 20 turnovers in the game. The Beacons stayed in the game by converting 9-of-18 3-point attempts.
Pringle finished with 14 field goals in 25 attempts, including four 3-pointers. She also snatched a season-high six steals. Gretchen Owens, the Wildcats’ leading scorer through nine games, ended with 14 points and six rebounds. Kaely Maltman (Sr., Sandy, Ore.) grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
NEXT: The Wildcats take a well-deserved break for the holidays and remain idle until Jan. 4. That night, they’ll travel to Portland to resume Northwest Conference play against Lewis & Clark at Pamplin Sports Center. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. with the live internet broadcast starting at 5:50.
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