McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Gretchen Owens and Kaely Maltman (Sr., Sandy, Ore.) combined for 38 points and Linfield moved one step closer to its first winning season in five years with a 65-57 Northwest Conference victory over Pacific Saturday night at Ted Wilson Gymnasium.
The Wildcats (12-10, 7-7 NWC) won their third straight contest to remain in contention for one of the four NWC playoff tournament berths. Pacific dipped to 6-17 overall and 2-12 in conference action.
Aided by George Fox’s road win over Whitworth Saturday night, the Wildcats moved into a three-way tie Whitworth and Whitman for the fourth and final playoff berth. Those two teams meet Tuesday night in a pivotal contest.
Owens netted four 3-pointers on her way to a game-high 24 points. The junior all-star also added six rebounds. Maltman sank 6-of-13 from the field to finish with 14 points, eight rebounds.
Wildcats point guard Abby Olbrich, no doubt weary from playing a varsity tennis match earlier in the day at the University of Portland, contributed six points, two steals and one assist.
The Wildcats shot a blistering 64 percent from the field over the first 20 minutes while building leads of as many as 13 points. Owens led the way, hitting 6-of-7 from the field. Olbrich connected on running layin in the closing seconds of the half to stake the hosts to a 38-25 advantage at the break.
Linfield’s shooters cooled off in the second half to a more pedestrian 37 percent. That allowed the Boxers to crawl back into the game.
Kandice McArthur’s 3-pointer capped a 11-2 run over the first nine minutes of the second half, pulling Pacific to within one, 40-39.
The Boxers kept the pressure on the Wildcats, eventually taking a four-point edge at 53-49 on another three from Erick Schultz.
Linfield closed the game with a 16-4 surge, completing the season sweep of the Boxers.
Schultz scored a team-high 23 points, convering 9-of-18 from the floor. McArthur knocked in 14 points to go with six rebounds. Paige Jensen collared a game-best nine rebounds while adding eight points.
AHEAD: Linfield plays its final home game of the season Friday night when the ‘Cats host Yamhill County rival George Fox at 6 p.m. The Wildcats then close the regular season on the road Saturday night at Pacific Lutheran.
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