By Will Keyse
Thursday, Feb. 23- NWC Semifinal Game
Puget Sound 61 – Lewis and Clark 58
On Thursday, Feb. 23, the women’s basketball team squared off against the Pioneers of Lewis and Clark College (Portland, Oregon) while hosting the Northwest Conference Tournament semifinal match. Puget Sound was the number one overall seed in the conference and played host to the final weekend of the tournament.
After jumping out to an early 8-2 lead, the Loggers trailed from the 2:08 mark in the first quarter until there were only 57 seconds remaining in the game. Lewis and Clark held as much as a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter, but scoring outbursts from first-year forward Jamie Lange (Lake Tapps, Washington) and senior Alexis Noren (Milwaukie, Oregon) propelled the Loggers past Lewis and Clark at the last minute, 61-58.
The pair combined to score 19 points in the fourth quarter, including a decisive possession in which Lange recorded four straight offensive rebounds before drawing a foul and scoring the basket, giving the Loggers their first and final lead. For the whole game, Noren scored 15 points and pulled down nine rebounds, and Lange recorded 29 points with 17 rebounds.
The Pioneers’ leading scorer was Ayisat Afolabi (West Hills, California), who poured in 30 points and grabbed 20 rebounds. She was the driving force behind Lewis and Clark’s offense for the first three quarters, but the Loggers’ defense was able to hold her to only six points in the final quarter.
Saturday, Feb. 25- NWC Championship Game
Puget Sound 72 – Whitman 81
On Saturday, Feb. 25, the Loggers faced the Whitman College Blues (Walla Walla, Washington) at Memorial Fieldhouse for the Northwest Conference Championship in front of a full flannel-clad student section; they fell just short of capturing the trophy.
Puget Sound came out of the gates on a hot streak, outscoring Whitman 21-9 in the first quarter and posting a 50 percent shooting percentage. The start of the second quarter marked a pronounced shift in momentum: the Blues narrowed Puget Sound’s lead to just two points at the halftime break.
Whitman kept their lead in the third quarter, outscoring the Loggers by 13 points and holding on to a 60-49 lead going into the final ten minutes of play. The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth affair, but Puget Sound was never able to get even with the Blues, eventually losing by a score of 81-72.
The Loggers had four players score in double figures, with Noren scoring a game high 24 points and Lange contributing another 20.
As announced on Monday, Feb 27, the Loggers will host three other teams in the first round of the NCAA Division III Basketball Tournament, where they will be matched up against University of California-Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, California). Puget Sound (25-2) is the favorite over UCSC (13-10), and the winner will take on the winner of Whitman College (23-4) and George Fox University (Newberg, Oregon, 21-5). Puget Sound plays at 7 p.m. tonight, March 3, and the second round game will be played on Saturday (time TBA).