Lutes Scorch the Nets and Burn Whitworth

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SPOKANE, Wash. -- Visiting Pacific Lutheran blistered Whitworth and the basket for 72 percent shooting from the floor in the second half of Friday night's 86-60 Northwest Conference women's basketball victory at the Whitworth Fieldhouse.

The Lutes (4-8 overall, 2-1 NWC) broke a six game skid while the Pirates (5-7, 1-2) dropped their third straight decision.

PLU used a 15-3 run early in the first half to turn an 8-5 deficit into a 20-11 lead. The Lutes would eventually stretch their first half advantage to 29-15 on a lay up by Mandy Wall before the Pirates pulled back to within 35-28 at halftime following a pair of free throws from Hannah Ostic.

Katelyn Smith had eight points in the period to spark the Lutes, who shot 43 percent (13-for-30) before the break and outrebounded the Pirates 23-17. Taylor (LaMoreaux) Taylor had 10 points for Whitworth, but the Bucs were held to only 29 percent (8-for-28) in the first half.

Whitworth made a run early in the second half, getting within 44-41 after back to back three-pointers by Lauren Picha and Emily Travis. But PLU answered with a 7-0 run over the next 90 seconds to regain a 10-point lead. From there the Lutes steadily pulled away. Jordan Westering hit a three-pointer to give PLU a 64-50 lead and Wall hit a jumper to extend the advantage to 72-55 with less than six minutes to play, putting the game away. The Pirates only scored five points over the final seven minutes of the game.

The Lutes hot half included 18 baskets in 25 shots, including 4-for-5 from three-point range. PLU came into the game shooting 39 percent as a team this season.

Five Lutes reached double figures, led by Smith's 16 off of the bench. Wall finished with 15, also as a substitute. Mackenzie Bieker scored 12, while Shelly Kilcup had 11 and Sara Backstrom finished with 10 points. Smith and Kilcup each grabbed seven rebounds to lead PLU. The Lutes finished with a 40-29 edge on the boards.

Lexi Belcher scored a career-high 20 points for the Pirates. Taylor did not score in the second half and finished with 10 points. Taylor also led Whitworth with seven rebounds.

Pacific Lutheran returns to conference action at 4 p.m. Saturday when it plays Whitman (6-5, 1-2) in Walla Walla.