McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Two Petersons were better than one for the Whitman Missionaries, who locked up third place in the Northwest Conference regular-season standings and well as a conference tournament playoff berth Saturday night at Ted Wilson Gym.
Kelly Peterson and Jenele Peterson, both Californians yet unrelated, combined for 27 points as the Missionaries held the Linfield Wildcats to 14 second-half points on their way to a decisive 65-38 victory, their fourth straight overall and second consecutive on the road.
Whitman (14-9, 10-4 NWC) opened the game with remarkable precision, hitting three of its first four shots en route to an 8-0 lead in the game’s first two minutes.
Down 15-10, Linfield went on a streak of its own, taking a 17-15 lead on a 3-pointer by Brynna Fuller. Another three by Fuller, plus a pair of free throws from Kaely Maltman (Sr., Sandy, Ore.), put the ‘Cats in front 22-17 with just under four minutes to play in the half. Baskets by Heather Lovelace, Jenele Peterson and Kelly Peterson pulled the Missionaries back to within one, 24-23, at the break.
Field goal percentages were nearly equal in the opening half, though Whitman outrebounded Linfield 23-17. The Missionaries coughed up 11 turnovers to the Wildcats’ five, helping keep the score close.
Whitman wrestled control away from Linfield to start the second half, outscoring the hosts 10-3. When Kelly Peterson planted a 3-pointer on a pass from Jenele Peterson, the Missionaries led 38-31 with 13:33 left to play.
The Whitman lead grew to double digits midway through the half. Jennifer Keyes planted a 3-pointer with 8:42 left and was fouled. She missed her free throw opportunity, corralled her own rebound and quickly put the ball through the net to complete a five-point swing that made it 50-36.
After Maltman’s jumper made it 52-38, Linfield was held scoreless for the final 5:11, during which time Whitman scored the game’s last 13 points.
Coming off a 33-point performance against Whitworth a night earlier, Wildcats all-star Gretchen Owens was held to 14 points on 6-of-22 shooting. Maltman added 12 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Linfield (10-13, 4-10 NWC) suffered its third straight defeat and is assured of a losing season. The Wildcats were 13-12 in coach Robin Potera-Haskins’ first season a year ago.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Fuller, the Wildcats’ starting guard, played 36 minutes in the game despite suffering a broken pinky on her left (non-shooting) hand Friday night against Whitworth. . . an athletic training major, Fuller wore a soft cast on her hand and hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first half before cooling off. . . the Wildcat senior also had three rebounds and no turnovers. . . Whitman’s bench outscored Linfield 14-0 as four of Linfield’s five starters played at least 36 minutes.
COMING UP: Linfield wraps up the 2011-12 season with a pair of games in the coming week. Friday night, the Wildcats visit the Wheeler Sports Center in Newberg to battle the George Fox Bruins. On Saturday, Linfield honors its two graduating seniors as the ‘Cats host Puget Sound for Senior Night. Both games start at 6 o’clock with live internet play-by-play beginning at 5:50.
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