Pacific Lutheran Slide Past Bearcats, 75-69

Salem, OR — A valiant second half comeback fell just short as the Willamette University women’s basketball team dropped a 75-69 decision to Pacific Lutheran University in the Northwest Conference opener for both teams. The Bearcats fall to 3-7 overall and 0-1 in the NWC. PLU evened its record at 5-5, 1-0 NWC.

The Lutes took a nine-point half-time lead behind 14 points from Aundi Kustura. Kustura hit six of ten from the field in the first half and finished with a team-high 18 points.

In the second half, PLU opened up a 46-29 lead behind six early points from Kezia Long (8 points, 6 rebounds) and a three-pointer from Kelly Turner (17 points, 4 assists). A jumper by Rachel Shillinger pushed the lead to 55-36 with 14:04 left to play.

The Bearcats closed the gap to 10 points on a pair of Wyffels free throws. A 3-pointer from Laura Payne and a jumper from Kari Woody cut the lead to five points at 57-52.

But led by Julia Short (21 points, 4 rebounds) and Vanessa Wyffels (18 points, 10 rebounds, five assists), the Bearcats slowly worked their way back into the game.

But lay-ups from Emily Voorhies and Long pushed the lead back to nine as the Lutes hung on for the win.

Roni Schneider added nine points and two boards for Willamette.

PLU won the battle of the boards 42-36. The Lutes shot 49% from the field while the Bearcats hit only 35% of their shots.

The Bearcats are back in action Saturday night with a 6 p.m. game against University of Puget Sound.