As the seventh-ranked Puget Sound Loggers continue to check off remaining opponents in the second half of the Northwest Conference women’s basketball season, one thing is apparent.
Their defense is better than it was earlier in the season.
A 74-57 road victory at Lewis & Clark in Portland was a big accomplishment Friday night for the Loggers. The Pioneers likely will make the conference’s postseason tournament.
“Defensively, I thought we were solid the whole game,” said UPS coach Loree Payne, whose group held Lewis & Clark to 35.9 percent shooting while forcing 15 turnovers. “The team followed the game plan.”
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Which meant keeping close track of Pioneers star Ayisat Afolabi, who is an athletic player in the post. She scored 15 points on 7-for-17 shooting.
The other key was how UPS defended the 3-point shot: Lewis & Clark made seven of 23 attempts.
In the third quarter, the Loggers broke away by shooting 57.1 percent from the floor. Guard Caitlin Malvar scored eight of her 10 points in the quarter, hitting a pair of 3-pointers. And post player Jamie Lange added seven of her game-high 17 points in that quarter as well.
With five games remaining, the Loggers (19-1, 11-0 in NWC) hold a two-game lead over Whitman for first place in the conference standings.
At Willamette 71, Pacific Lutheran 41: Kylie Towry and Marisa Hamilton scored 13 points apiece, and the Bearcats shot 51.1 percent from the floor in collecting an easy victory at Cone Fieldhouse in Salem, Oregon.
The Lutes (1-18, 0-11) have lost 13 games in a row.
UPS 84, at Lewis & Clark 76: The Loggers scored 25 points in the final seven minutes to complete the comeback, and roll by the Pioneers to end their three-game losing streak.
Carlos Mancasola led UPS (11-9, 4-7 in NWC) with 18 points. Kohl Meyer added 17 points, and Jimmy Wohrer chipped in with 15.
Easton Driessen tallied eight of his 12 points in the final seven minutes to propel the Loggers’ late-game surge.
PLU 78, at Willamette 65: Brandon Lester led the Lutes with a game-high 29 points, and Jared Christy added 15 of his 22 points in the second half as PLU won its fourth game in a row with a win in Salem.
PLU (11-9, 6-5) went on a 12-0 run, capped by Dylan Foreman’s 3-pointer, to grab a 53-43 lead with 12:31 to go.