PARKLAND, Wash. – Starting the second half of league play on the right side of the win-loss column, the Linfield women’s basketball team earned its first series sweep of a Northwest Conference opponent with a 59-48 win over Pacific Lutheran Friday night at Olson Auditorium.
In addition to getting a much-needed victory to try to claw back into the playoff race, the Wildcats (9-10, 3-7 NWC) also pocketed their first conference road win, snapped a five-game losing skid and extended their win streak over the Lutes (5-13, 2-7 NWC) to four consecutive games over two seasons.
Gretchen Owens and Kaely Maltman (Sr., Sandy, Ore.) each registered a double-double to lead the ‘Cats. Owens had 18 points, 12 rebounds and four assists while Maltman filled up the stat line with 15 points, 10 boards and one block.
Linfield held a slim one-point lead at halftime, but applied solid defensive pressure that limited the Lutes to just 16 second-half points on 23.3 percent shooting. A jumper by PLU’s Austin Schorno knotted the game at 41-41 with 11:33 remaining, but the ‘Cats scored eight of the game’s next 10 points and only allowed the home team to score eight points the rest of the way.
The biggest first-half advantage for the ‘Cats was eight points, 23-15, just over the midway point of the first half. PLU immediately turned the tables, responding with a 10-0 run over the next five minutes to go up five.
The teams traded buckets over the remaining 3 ½ minutes, but it was Linfield that had the final say of the opening period as Owens knocked down a 3-pointer with 35 ticks on the clock. She scored the final nine points of the half for Linfield.
PLU scored the first points of the second stanza, but was unable to keep pace with the Wildcats, who took the lead for good on a Maltman free throw with 11:12 remaining and never looked back.
For only the second team in conference action, the Wildcats claimed the advantage in bench scoring, owed mostly to the play of Nicole Barton. She contributed a season-high seven points to go along with two rebounds, one assist and one steal.
Samantha Potter, the league’s second leading scorer behind Owens, paced the Lutes with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Sara Backstrom and Shelly Kilcup both finished with eight points.
COMING UP: The Wildcats have a full week to rest up for their only other opportunity to earn a season sweep of a conference opponent when they travel to Willamette. Friday night tipoff is at 6 p.m. with live radio coverage beginning at approximately 5:50 p.m.
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