McMINNVILLE, Ore. – About 10 minutes of lockdown defense and a positive rebounding margin were not enough to help Linfield overcome a poor shooting first half as the Wildcats dropped a 64-57 decision to Concordia in nonconference women's basketball action Tuesday night inside Ted Wilson Gymnasium.
Kaely Maltman (Sr., Sandy, Ore.) and Katelyn Henson (Jr., Camas, Wash.) combined for 45 points, including all three free throws for the home team, as the Wildcats (3-6) relied on a higher shooting percentage and stronger defense in the second stanza to rally from an 11-point halftime deficit all the way back to within three points.
Concordia, however, shot 40 percent for the game and scored considerably more points on 3-pointers and free throws to register its second win of the season, improving to 2-11. Lexi Campbell and Caitlyn McCutcheon paced the Cavaliers with 14 points apiece, while Briannah Smith added 13 more.
Maltman had the Wildcat offense going early, providing back-to-back buckets as the teams played to a 4-4 tie over the opening four minutes of action. But McCutcheon's old-fashioned 3-point play started off an 11-2 run for the Cavaliers, earning the visitors a 15-6 lead with 11:11 to play.
Poor shooting doomed the Wildcats in the first half as the Cavaliers' advantage swelled to as many as 12 points. Linfield had plenty of scoring opportunities, putting up 33 shot attempts to Concordia's 30 and extending multiple possessions on seven total offensive rebounds, but flat-out could not knock down open looks. The ‘Cats shot just 24.2 percent, including 11.1 percent from beyond the arc, and only three players had entered the scoring column by intermission.
Concordia, comparatively, enjoyed a balanced scoring effort – seven scorers by halftime – and a 40 percent conversion rate. The Cavaliers found a sweet spot on the left wing, sinking a trio of 3-pointers, and got some easy buckets off baseline cuts.
A clean game from both teams resulted in just 11 whistled fouls, but that also meant Linfield did not get to the charity stripe until the 5:21 mark of the half, when Maltman made the most of both chances. For the night, the Wildcats shot a season-low three free throws, while the Cavaliers hit 14-of-17 attempts.
Maltman and Henson had 17 of Linfield's 19 points by the break. The only other basket came from Riley Graham (Fr., Scio, Ore.), who finished on the right block off a feed from Maltman.
Concordia hit open jumper after open jumper to start the second period, racing out to a 15-point lead, 40-25, not two minutes into the half. Searching for more defensive intensity, head coach Robin Potera-Haskins went to her bench with frequency, finally settling on a veteran lineup composed of Maltman, Henson, Jessica McMillan (Soph., McMinnville, Ore.), Catie Mets (Soph., Olympia, Wash.) and Taylor Solomon (Jr., Kirkland, Wash.).
Facing a 43-27 deficit, the quintet held the Cavaliers scoreless for 3½ minutes and limited the visitors to just four points over a five-minutes as part of a furious rally that pulled Linfield to within three, 47-44, with 10:09 on the clock.
Two free throws and a transition 3-pointer from Campbell pushed the spread back to eight points, however, before Henson responded with a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
The clubs waged an entertaining back-and-forth battle in the closing minutes, but despite shooting 45 percent from the floor, the home team could not get over the hump and the Cavaliers were a perfect 4-for-4 from the line down the stretch to secure the victory.
Mets finished with back-to-back layups to bring the Wildcats back to within five, but with only 10.3 seconds remaining there was not much Linfield could do influence the final outcome.
Maltman ended the night with a game-high 24 points and nine rebounds. Henson contributed her first double-double of the year with 21 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Mets (6), Graham (4) and Solomon (2) provided the only other scoring for the Wildcats, who did win the rebounding battle 45-36.
AHEAD: Linfield enjoys a short holiday before returning to Ted Wilson Gymnasium to play host to Blackburn College of Illinois Sunday, Dec. 29 at 4 p.m.
Records double-double with 21 points, 13 rebounds
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