One day, coach Loree Payne is fully confident her University of Puget Sound women’s basketball squad will break through against the best team in the Northwest Conference.
The Loggers are getting closer.
But George Fox, ranked No. 2 in Division III, still finds clutch ways to win games.
Trailing by 20 at one point, the Loggers rallied to tie the game with 2 1/2 minutes to go. That is when the second-ranked Bruins put forth a winning run in taking a 78-72 victory out of Memorial Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon in Tacoma.
Sammy Nalaui’s layup for George Fox (19-0, 9-0 in NWC) with 2:08 to go broke a 70-70 tie. Her steal and another layup a minute later highlighted the finishing 8-2 run.
“We battled incredibly hard to get it to a tied game,” Payne said. “But in the last 2 1/2 minutes, their experience at that caliber of basketball really shined through. They were focused and sharp.”
UPS (12-7, 7-3) trailed 67-55 with 8:20 remaining, but went on an 8-0 run, capped by Samone Jackson’s 3-pointer, to make it a tight game.
Elizabeth Prewitt’s layup off a feed from Jackson tied it at 70.
Prewitt’s 17 points led the Loggers. Emily Sheldon added 15, and Jackson chipped in 14 as five UPS players scored in double figures.
Now with their four-game winning streak snapped, the Loggers still have an opportunity to preserve a home conference tournament playoff game — and a very good chance to see George Fox once again down the line.
“Obviously the goal is to host one of those games, and we have a great opportunity to do that. We still needed to take it one game at a time,” Payne said.
“(Playing at George Fox’s level) is the standard. That is how we need to approach every game.”
At UPS 87, George Fox 65: There are ways to win basketball games other than making a bunch of 3-pointers — and the Loggers relied on their defense (held the Bruins to 33.3-percent shooting) and free throws (19) to hammer George Fox in Tacoma.
“We attacked in different ways,” UPS coach Justin Lunt said.
Kohl Meyer notched his fifth double-double of the season (24 points, 13 rebounds), and Keith Shattuck added 16 points off the bench – 13 coming in the first half.
Shattuck drilled half of the team’s eight 3-pointers. His third one of the first half gave UPS (11-8, 6-4 in NWC) a 40-20 lead a the 3:36 mark.
The Loggers swept the home series for the second consecutive weekend, and now head out on the road for the next two weeks.
“It was important we had to take care of stuff here,” Lunt said.