TACOMA, Wash. - A dominate first half of play helped the #7 Lewis & Clark women's basketball team defeat the Puget Sound Loggers 70-64 on Saturday night in Northwest Conference action.
The win improves the Pioneers to 16-1 on the season and 7-1 in conference play. The Loggers fall to 9-8 on the year and 5-3 in the NWC. The win helped the Pioneers create some separation from the Loggers in the conference standings, while remaining one game ahead of the Whitman Missionaries.
Juniors Sara Villanueva and Kristina Williams led the way for the Pioneers with Villanueva knocking down a game-high 18 points and Williams scoring 17. Villanueva scored 14 of her points from the free-throw line, while Williams ended the night 7-10 from the field. Senior Megan Spence also ended the night in double figures, scoring 10 points for the Pios. Senior Margaret Dowling finished with a game-high seven rebounds, while Williams and Neva Hauser each pulled down six.
Kelsey McKinnis scored a team-high 14 points for the Loggers, while Jocelyn Riordan scored 12 and Ashley Agcaioili chipped in 10.
The Loggers struck first with a free-throw by Agcaioili at the 19:26 mark. Williams answered back with two made free-throws of her own just 13 seconds later to put the Pioneers ahead 3-1. Over the next 10 minutes of action, the two sides would swap possession of the lead, while keeping their opponent within three points. The Pioneers began to take control of the half with 8:58 remaining with Villanueva's first two made free-throws of the night.
Williams put the Pioneers ahead 24-18 seconds later after being fouled and making her free-throw following a successful layup. A Spence layup in the paint with 2:33 until halftime put the Pioneers on top 34-26. Spence rounded out the first half scoring with back-to-back free throws with seconds remaining, sending the Pios into the locker room with a 37-28 advantage.
The Pioneers built on their lead in the beginning of the second half, going up 41-30 with 17:08 remaining on a Dowling layup. Puget Sound spent the next 10 minutes slowly chipping away at the Pioneers advantage, eventually pulling within 57-55 with 6:18 to go on a Lindsay Layland layup.
Villanueva increased the Pio lead to seven points at the 4:15 mark with four consecutive free-throws. McKinnis pulled the Loggers back within two with the unconventional three point play with 3:22 on the clock. The Pioneers went on to capture the 70-64 win down the stretch after hitting their free-throws as the Loggers continued to foul in an effort to come back.
The Pioneers return to action on Friday, Jan. 27 at 6 p.m. when they host the Missionaries for the second half of NWC action.