Second Half Surge Pushes Whitworth Past PLU

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PARKLAND - Despite a strong start, Pacific Lutheran's women's basketball team couldn't keep Whitworth at bay and fell 67-54 in on Saturday night in Olson Auditorium.

The loss puts the Lutes on a four-game losing streak in conference play. They are now 6-11 overall, 3-7 in the Northwest Conference. Whitworth leaves tonight's game 14-5 overall and 7-3 in conference.

PLU started out strong, seeming to putting last night's close loss against Whitman aside. Chrissy Swope drained a jump shot just a minute and a half into the game to put the Lutes on the board first. Strong Pacific Lutheran defense held the Pirates, allowing them only two free throws in the first six minutes.

At 14:22, Emily Guthrie hit a three pointer to give Whitworth its basket of the night. After that Whitworth found their feet and began to dominate offensively. KC McConnell's layup at 7:00 put Whitworth ahead 17-6, their biggest lead of the half.

The Lutes however, were not ready to give up without a fight. They staged a comeback late in the half, Amber Stokes' layup with 1:49 remaining putting PLU just two points behind at 20-18. With time running out on the clock Whitworth hung onto their lead and sank a final basket from Kayla Johnson to take a 24-18 advantage at the half.

In the first half the Lutes shot 32 percent (8-for-25) from the field and totaled 25 rebounds. Whitworth shot 27 percent (9-for-33) for the half, 83 percent (5-for-6) from the free throw line and forced the Lutes to turn the ball over nine times while committing just three of its own.

Kara Sherman hit a three-pointer 30 seconds into the second half, once again putting the Lutes on the board first once. The Pirates provided solid defense, not allowing another Lute basket until Sherman hit another shot at 16:44, while at the same time building a 37-25 lead with Emily Travis twice hitting a pair of free throws bracketing a three-pointer by Kendra Lahue.

The Pirates continued to build on that lead and McConnell's three-pointer at 10:54 gave them an 18-point lead, 48-30, their largest of the night.

The Lutes once again found their feet late in the half, slicing away at the lead. A three-point basket by Sarah Barnes at 3:34 cut PLU's deficit to six at 54-48. PLU was still within six points with just under three minutes to play, but Whitworth iced the game by scoring its final seven points at the foul line, including four from Travis.

Megan Abdo and Sarah Barnes led up the Lutes offense with 10 points apiece.  Samantha Potter added eight points and also led the Lutes with 11 rebounds. The Lutes shot 34 percent (19-for-56) from the field for the night and were 67 percent (14-for-21) from the free throw line. PLU ended the game with 45 rebounds as a team while turning the ball over 19 times.

Travis led her team with a career-high 20 points. Kayla Johnson had 11 points and Katara Belton-Sharp grabbed five rebounds.  The Pirates were 35 percent (20-for-58) from the field on the night, and they also finished with 37 rebounds and 12 turnovers.

The Lutes return to Olson Auditorium at 6 p.m. Tuesday when they take on cross-town rivals Puget Sound.

- PLU - 

By Brenna Sussman, PLU Sports Information Assistant