McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Lexi Belcher scored a career-high 33 points to lead visiting Whitworth to a 93-73 win at Linfield on Friday night, keeping the Pirates' flickering Northwest Conference playoff hopes alive.
The Pirates improved to 10-12 overall and 6-7 in the NWC, moving within one and a half games of fourth-place Puget Sound (8-6 NWC) with the win. The Wildcats fell to 10-12, 4-9.
Belcher scored 14 of her points in the first half to help the Pirates take a 42-38 lead into the locker rooms. Whitworth had the lead despite the fact that Linfield made 59% of its shots in the opening period. The teams traded leads throughout the first twelve minutes until Belcher's three gave Whitworth a 28-25 lead with 8:35 left in the period. The Pirates would never trail again. Katara Belton-Sharp scored to give Whitworth a 42-33 lead, but the Cats rallied to within 42-38 at the break.
Belcher really heated up in the second half. She nailed back-to-back treys to give the Bucs their first double-digit lead (50-40) early in the second half. Whitworth would steadily stretch the lead the rest of the way. Kendra Lahue's three gave the Pirates a 69-53 lead and another Belcher three made it 88-69 with 1:44 to go.
Whitworth made 66% (19-29) of its shots in the second half, 7-12 (58%) from three-point range. Meanwhile Linfield cooled off to 46% in the second period.
Belcher made 8-11 from three-point range to tie a school record that had been done twice before for three-pointers made in a game. She was 10-16 from the field overall and 5-6 from the free throw line.
Belcher led four Pirates in double figures. Emily Guthrie, who now shares the single-game three-pointer record with Belcher, finished with 12 points. Jamie Lyons had 11 points and eight rebounds and Lauren Picha scored ten points. Kendra Knutsen dished a career-high eight assists.
Whitworth finished the game with a 57% (34-60) shooting percentage, 52% (11-21) from three-point range.
Owens matched Belcher's 33 points to lead Linfield. She also grabbed eight rebounds and added six assists to lead her team in both categories as well. Brynna Fuller contributed 11 points to Linfield's cause.
Whitworth will take on Pacific University on Saturday night looking to sweep the two-game trip to Oregon.