Career Record Book
SPOKANE, Wash. – Gretchen Owens equaled her career of 35 points and moved up to No. 2 on Linfield's all-time scoring list, but it wasn’t enough to push the visiting Wildcats past the Whitworth Pirates Saturday night at the Whitworth Fieldhouse.
With the game’s outcome hanging in the balance, the Pirates (7-8, 3-3 NWC) made a series of clutch free throws in the closing minutes to wrestle a back-and-forth 75-73 Northwest Conference victory from the 'Cats (8-7, 2-4 NWC).
Emily Guthrie’s two free throws with 10 seconds to play cinched the game in Whitworth's favor.
Fueled by Owens’ 22-point first-half scoring barrage, Linfield took a 39-34 lead into the halftime lockerroom. The Pirates led by six points early, 14-8, following a 3-pointer from Jaime Lyons at the 14:49 mark. The Wildcats chipped their way back, taking a 22-21 lead on Owens’ 3-pointer with 9:14 to go in the half. A 7-0 run in the late stages of the period provided some breathing room for the Wildcats, who shot 50 percent for the half.
Following intermission, Whitworth lanched an 8-0 run, including back-to-back 3-pointers by Lexi Belcher and Lauren Picha. Kendra Lahue scored inside to give the Pirates their largest lead of the second half (55-51) with 11:44 left. But Whitworth went scoreless for the next four minutes as Linfield staked a 57-55 lead on a 3-pointer by Alex Christensen (Soph., Hillsboro, Ore.), who finished with five points, seven rebounds and two steals.
A jumper by Owens gave the ‘Cats a 70-69 lead with 2:20 left before Whitworth scored the final six points of the contest from the free throw line, going 6-for-8 over the final 2:04. Belcher hit two to give the Bucs the lead back, and Kendra Knutsen cashed in 1 of 2 attempts for a 72-70 Whitworth lead with 21 seconds left.
After Chelsie McConville missed two free throws for Linfield with 11 seconds left, Guthrie came down with a tough rebound and calmly sank both free throws with what turned out to be a crucial four-point Pirate lead. Owens took a pass and drained her fourth three-pointer of the game with four seconds left to get Linfield within one. Whitworth inbounded cleanly to Knutsen who was fouled and made one of two with two seconds left for the final margin.
Owens’ total of 35 points ties her career high and is the fourth-highest single-game total in Linfield history. She also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds and led the ‘Cats with four assists. Kaely Maltman (Jr., Sandy, Ore.) added 13 points and Brynna Fuller scored 12. Fuller canned 5-of-9 field goals, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Belcher finished with 18 points to pace Whitworth and Guthrie registered 10 points to go with four assists. Kayla Johnson scored eight points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. Whitworth outrebounded Linfield 43-36, including a 13-6 edge in offensive rebounds.
'CAT SCRATCH: The topsy-turvy game featured 18 lead changes and 10 ties. . . Owens, the NWC scoring leader with a 21.6 points-per-game average, now has amassed 1,193 points, surpass the 1,192 of former Wildcat Julie Morgan (1982-84).
AHEAD: Linfield continues its three-game road swing with a NWC contest Friday night at Puget Sound. Tipoff at Memorial Fieldhouse is 6 o’clock with live internet play-by-play starting at 5:50. Whitworth hosts Whitman Tuesday night.
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