Willamette Stages Rally to Defeat Pacific Lutheran, 59-54

Bearcat Defense Holds Lutes to 15 points in second half

By John Lind, Assistant Athletics Communications Director

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University women’s basketball team overcame a 39-30 halftime deficit, storming back in the final 20 minutes to rally past Northwest Conference foe Pacific Lutheran University, 59-54, on Friday, Feb. 8, at Cone Field House.

With the win, Willamette moved to 2-19 overall, 2-10 in the NWC. Pacific Lutheran dropped to 6-13 on the season, including 3-10 in the NWC.

PLU jumped out to an early 12-4 lead, capitalizing on a slow start by the Bearcats. The Lutes had the clear advantage in the first half, shooting 51.6 percent from the field and out-rebounding Willamette 18-14. The Lutes also had three players reach double figures in the first 20 minutes.

After the Lutes, built their early lead, the two teams traded baskets back-and-forth through much of the half. Willamette closed the gap to 28-23 on two free throws by Rebecca Josephson (Jr., G, Fair Oaks, CA/Del Campo HS) with 4:13 left in the half. The Lutes answered, going on an 11-2 run to push the lead to 14 points.

The Bearcats responded with five straight points from Sophie Wilson (Sr., G, Port Townsend, WA/Port Townsend HS) to go into half trailing 39-30. Willamette was paced by Katie Kalugin (So., F, Woodburn, OR/Woodburn HS), who scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds in the first half. Wilson added seven points on 3 of 4 shooting.

The Bearcats came out hot to start the second half. A jumper by Josephson and back-to-back lay ups by Wilson trimmed the lead to 3. Willamette also employed an aggressive and physical defense to hold the Lutes scoreless for the first 6:08 of the half.

The Bearcats caught up at last, going on a 6-0 run to tie the game at 45. PLU answered with a jumper from Samantha Potter to take a 47-45 lead, but Kalugin answered right back with a jumper of her own.

Willamette forced the Lutes into a turnover, and with 4:44 remaining, took their first lead of the game off a long three pointer from Jojo DeLong (So., G, Santa Clarita, CA/Canyon HS). The Bearcats would not trail for the rest of the game.

PLU struck back, as Kara Sherman sank a three pointer to tie the game at 50 with 3:43 remaining. On Willamette’s next trip down the floor, however, Kalugin drove to the basket for an easy lay up.

Free throw shooting became a major problem for the Lutes in the second half. After 7-8 shooting in the first half, PLU went 4-8 in the second half, missing free throws at critical times late in the game. Willamette shot only 8-12 from the stripe, but went 4-4 in the last 20 seconds to seal the victory.

Kalugin led the Bearcats with an all-around effort, scoring 14 points and collecting 8 rebounds. Josephson and Wilson scored 12 and 11 points, respectively. DeLong finished with 9 points and a team high 7 assists.

Willamette’s improvement was notable in the second half, as they outscored PLU 29-15. The Bearcats’ defense was also impressive, as the Lutes shot only 19.2 percent and committed 11 of their 18 turnovers in the second half.

Willamette now travels north to Portland, Ore. to face NWC foe Lewis & Clark College on Saturday, Feb. 9. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m.

BOX SCORE

Willamette University 59
Pacific Lutheran University 54

Photo gallery
(By Naomi Stukey, Photographer for Willamette Athletics)

Katie Kalugin led the Bearcats on Friday with 14 points and 8 rebounds.

Katie Kalugin led the Bearcats on Friday with 14 points and 8 rebounds.