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January 6, 2012

Potter Ties PLU Scoring Record but Lutes Fall

PARKLAND - Samantha Potter scored 36 points to tie a Pacific Lutheran women's basketball single-game scoring record on Friday night, but the Lutes still came out on the short end of an 80-67 Northwest Conference decision to the visiting Whitworth Pirates in Olson Auditorium.

Whitworth improves to 5-7 overall and to 1-2 in the conference, while PLU is now 4-8 overall and 1-2 in the NWC.

Potter, a sophomore post from Portland, Ore., tied the record of 36 points set by Tanya Wilson against Whitman on Jan. 28, 1995. Potter scored 20 of her points on 10-for-10 shooting in the first half and ended up 17-for-21 from the field on the way to her record-tying point total.

Still, it was Whitworth that made a number of big plays in the second half to steal the victory and give its 18-year head coach, Helen Higgs, her first-ever win over a PLU team in Olson Auditorium after 17 straight losses.

Potter scored the game's initial basket 50 seconds into the game, but Lauren Picha scored five points and collected an assist during a 7-0 Whitworth run. The Lutes came right back with seven straight of their own, capped by a Sara Backstrom three-point basket, and that set the tone for the the next 30 minutes, at which point the Pirates took control.

The score was tied nine times and there were 12 lead changes alone in the opening 20 minutes of the game. With Potter dominating under the basket and Sara Backstrom hitting all three of her shots on the way to eight first-half points, the Lutes shot 59 percent from the field (17-for-29) and went into the locker room with a 39-36 lead.

Whitworth made the big plays in the second half and gradually pulled away from the Lutes. Emily Guthrie hit a clutch three-point shot to give the visitors a 56-54 lead with 12:16 to play, and the Pirates stayed on top the rest of the way.

Whitworth's Lexi Belcher knocked down a three-ball to make it 71-62 with 3:34 showing, and after Mackenzie Bieker hit a pair of charity tosses to pull the Lutes to within 71-65 with 2:22 to play, Belcher hit two free throws and then converted a short jumper after a PLU turnover to give Whitworth a 75-65 advantage with 90 seconds remaining.

The Pirates made five of six at the foul line in the final 1:04 to wrap up the victory against the Lutes, whose only points in the last two minutes came on Potter's rebound basket with 31 seconds remaining. Potter didn't get her hands on the ball after that and ended up tying the scoring record.

In addition to her 36 points, Potter collected a game-high 10 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season. Shelly Kilcup tallied 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists to help the Lutes' cause. After shooing 59 percent in the opening half the Lutes made just 9-for-28 from the field (32 percent) in the final half to finish at 46 percent for the game.

All five of Whitworth's starters ended up in double figures, led by Guthrie and Kayla Johnson with 19 apiece. Belcher scored 16 points and both Jamie Lyons and Picha had 10 apiece for the winners. Lyons led her team with eight rebounds, Guthrie had six assists and Kendra Knutsen contributed six steals off of the bench.

Both teams are back in action at 4 p.m. Saturday, the Lutes hosting Whitman and the Pirates playing at Puget Sound.

- PLU -