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PLU Women Face Tough Foes in UPS, L&C

Junior guard Mandy Wall.

THIS WEEK: Pacific Lutheran (3-8 overall, 1-1 Northwest Conference) at Puget Sound (9-2, 1-1), Wednesday, 6 p.m.; PLU host Lewis & Clark (8-3, 2-0), Saturday, 6 p.m.

MORE NORTHWEST CONFERENCE ACTION: Just a couple of days removed from a split of its first two Northwest Conference games, the Pacific Lutheran women's basketball squad faces a pair of teams that have gotten off to fast starts during the 2009-10 season. The Puget Sound Loggers split a pair of close conference road games last weekend, losing in overtime to defending conference and national champion George Fox, 65-62, before rallying from eight points down in the final 50 seconds to pull out a harrowing 62-61 win against Linfield. The Loggers, picked to finish second in the preseason coaches poll, are 9-2 this year and top the list of "others receiving votes" in the USA Today ESPN Division III Top 25 Coaches' Poll. After three conference road games, the Lutes open their NWC home slate on Saturday night against Lewis & Clark, 8-3 overall and unbeaten in two conference games. The Pioneers were picked by conference coaches to finish sixth in the NWC this season, one spot ahead of the Lutes.

LISTEN TO THE LUTES: You can listen to most PLU men's basketball games on KLAY 1180 AM in the Tacoma area and also at www.klay1180.com. Long-time announcer Bob Robertson returns to call the action for the Lutes. The game at UPS will be broadcast on KLAY, but the Lewis & Clark game will not. You can, however, hear the Lewis & Clark game through the PLU athletics web site (http://www.golutes.com/information/listenlive) with Drew Griffin and Nick Caraballo calling the action.

ABOUT PUGET SOUND: The Loggers figure to battle for the conference title this year based on some highly regarded veterans and an infusion of talented newcomers. Claire Ely, a first team all-conference pick last year, currently leads the team with an average of 19.8 points per game. The 5-9 senior guard scored 29 points, including the game winner, against Linfield, and she has led her team in scoring in five of the last six contests. Ely also averages nearly five assists per contest. Jocelyn Riordan, a 5-9 sophomore guard, scores at a 12.5 points per game clip and pulls down an average of 4.5 rebounds per contest. Natasha Ludwig, a 5-10 senior forward, leads the Loggers with an average of 7.9 rebounds. The Loggers, are 3-0 at home this season.

ALL-TIME SERIES: You never know what to expect when the Lutes and Loggers square off on the hardwood, and last year's games were evidence of that fact. Pacific Lutheran played its most complete game of the season in blistering the Loggers, 69-39, on its home court. The next time that the teams met, about a month later at the UPS Memorial Fieldhouse, Puget Sound had little trouble in rolling to a 79-57 victory. That result was part of a recent trend that has seen the Loggers win nine of the past 12 contests. Puget Sound leads the all-time series, 37-23.

ABOUT LEWIS & CLARK: Thus far this season, the Pioneers are exceeding the expectations of NWC coaches, though it is still early to tell if they can continue their early success. Another measure of their season comes on Friday when they host the Linfield Wildcats. In addition, Lewis & Clark has played seven of its 11 games at home, winning six of those. The Pioneers have shown excellent offensive balance with seven different players leading the team in individual-game scoring. The team's leading scorer overall is 5-9 freshman guard Kristina Williams, who averages 16.1 points per game. Christina Harring, a 5-6 junior guard, averages 10.6 points per game, and she and Williams have combined for 49 steals already this year. Margaret Dowling, a 5-11 sophomore forward, is the team's leading rebounder with an average of 8.6 per contest. The Pioneers have dominated on the glass, wiping away an average of 8.1 more rebounds than their foes this season.

ALL-TIME SERIES: Pacific Lutheran has a 42-13 advantage in the all-time series, but the teams have split the last eight games. The Lutes swept aside the Pios last year, winning 64-52 at home and 56-41 on the road. The year before that, it was L&C with the sweep, 70-67 in overtime in Portland and 75-49 in Parkland.

PLU MAKES IT 29 IN A ROW: Jordan Westering and Tracy Goehri combined for 40 points and 13 rebounds, helping PLU race past Linfield, 75-58, in the conference opener for both schools last Saturday afternoon at Ted Wilson Gymnasium in McMinnville, Ore. The win was the 29th in a row for the Lutes over the Wildcats dating back to the 1995-96 season. Goehri hit 9-of-11 shots on her way to 20 points and she collared a game-high seven rebounds. Westering added 20 points by cashing in 7-of-11 shots, including 4-of-6 from three-point range, and she added six rebounds. The Lutes shot .549 from the field for the game. A late spurt pushed the Lutes to a 30-24 halftime lead, an advantage they would not relinquish. Kamy Harris hit a 3-pointer from the right side with 45 seconds to play and Goehri worked inside for a layup with four seconds left, giving the Lutes their largest lead of the contest to that point.

FIRST HALF WOES DOOM PLU IN LOSS AT PACIFIC: A big first half provided all of the momentum Pacific needed to notch a victory in its Northwest Conference opener on Sunday as the Boxers walked away with a 73-59 victory over Pacific Lutheran at the Pacific Athletic Center. The Boxers blistered the nets for 50 percent shooting in the opening period, connecting for 15-of-30 from the field and 5-of-10 from the three-point line. Pacific went into halftime with a 42-21 lead. The Lutes cut the lead to 10 late in the game but would never come closer. Sara Backstrom led PLU with 14 points while Jordan Westering connected for 12 points. Meghan Dowling pulled down nine boards as the Lutes out-rebounded the Boxers, 40-39. PLU shot 36.2 percent (21-of-58) for the game and hit 5-of-13 from long range.

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