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February 18, 2011

First Half Surge Carries PLU Past Willamette

PARKLAND - Pacific Lutheran used a 16-0 run over a four-minute period of the first half to break open a close game, and then held off a couple of Willamette second half challenges to take a 76-59 Northwest Conference women's basketball win on Friday night in Olson Auditorium.

In ending a four-game losing streak to Willamette, the Lutes improved their overall record to 6-17 and their conference mark to 4-11. The Bearcats are now 3-19 overall and 2-13 in the conference. Both teams conclude their seasons with homes games tomorrow night, the Lutes hosting Linfield and Willamette playing Lewis & Clark.

Erin Barclay hit a fastbreak layup with 7:56 left in the first half to pull Willamette to within four points, 23-19, but that's when the Lutes broke the game open with 16 unanswered points.

The run started with a three-pointer by Sara Backstrom and ended with back-to-back baskets from Samantha Potter. In between, Mandy Wall scored four points, Jordan Westering hit a three, and Melissa Pixler added a jumper.

Maya McFaddin hit the first of two free throws with 3:57 left in the half to finally end the run, but by that point the the Lutes had surged to a 39-19 lead.

PLU led 44-28 at the half, but Willamette came out strong in the opening minutes of the second period and got its deficit under double digit. Sophie Wilson, who finished the game with 12 points, hit a three-point shot to make it 50-41 with 13:47 on the clock.

The Lutes responded with seven straight points, capped by Shelly Kilcup's three, but Willamette replied with eight in a row, four each by Wilson and Alex Zennan. That made the score 57-49 in favor of PLU with 7:13 left in the game, but that was as close as the Bearcats would get as the hosts pulled away in the late going.

Potter led four PLU players in double figures with 18 points, followed by Backstrom with 17, Westering with 16 and Wall with 12. Wall led all players with 10 rebounds, and Backstrom set a collegiate career high with 11 assists. The Lutes finished the game with 24 assists on their 30 baskets. They shot 47 percent (30-for-64) overall and 39 percent (7-for-18) from three-point range.

In addition to Wilson's dozen points, Zennan led her team with 16 points. Kaileigh Westermann had seven rebounds and Barclay contributed four assists to lead the Bearcats in those categories. Willamette shot 33 percent (20-for-61) from the field and just 27 percent (4-for-15) from three-point range.

- PLU -