All Jennifer Childress is used to is winning basketball games.
She can also look right next to her on the Pacific Lutheran University women’s bench and see assistant coaches LeAnn Teeple and Gabby Wade. They have also won their share of contests.
But the Lutes themselves? They were in search of their first Northwest Conference victory, playing against a school looking for the same thing.
It took two overtimes, but PLU prevailed, 67-63, over Willamette on Saturday afternoon at Names Family Court.
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Tayler Flemming and Jori Hall shared team-high scoring honors with 17 points apiece. Hall tallied the first four points of the second extra session to give the Lutes the lead.
Nursing a 65-63 lead, PLU (4-10, 1-4 in NWC) had a chance to ice it with 24.7 seconds remaining. But Bailey Raines missed both free throws, giving the Bearcats (5-10, 0-6) one final chance to tie — or possibly win it.
And they got the basketball into the hands of their best one-on-one threat — guard Jojo DeLong.
DeLong went right into the paint — where she was met by 6-foot-4 junior Michaela Edgers. Redirecting, DeLong fired a pass behind her that Raines saw coming before anybody.
“They always kick strong side, and I saw that,” Raines said. “And I needed to make up for my missed free throws. I was late a couple times (defending that play), and I decided this was going to be mine.”
Raines did not get the steal, but got the tip, pushing the ball toward Lacey Nicholson, who was fouled and calmly sealed the win by making two free throws with 9.5 seconds to go.
PLU had a chance at the end of the first extra period. Point guard Megan Abdo went the length of the court in the final 4.9 seconds, and got off a corner 3-pointer that barely missed off the glass.
It was a much needed victory for the Lutes, who are young and rebuilding behind a promising coach in Childress, who is in her second season. She was a longtime assistant for NCAA Division II powerhouse Western Washington University.
“I want them to keep believing we have something,” Childress said. “We were not pouting, or feeling sorry for ourselves that we did not have a conference win. We just respect this conference so much.”
At No. 23 Puget Sound 88, Linfield 55: Finally, a breather for the Loggers, who made their share of 3-pointers (nine) in earning a victory over the Wildcats at Memorial Fieldhouse in Tacoma.
UPS (13-1, 4-1 in NWC) had six players score in double figures, led by Emily Sheldon’s 16 points. Olivia Roberts added 14 off the bench.
At Puget Sound 68, Linfield 67: Kohl Meyer’s scored the game-winning layup with 15 seconds to go and the Loggers (8-5, 3-2 NWC) rallied to beat the Wildcats (2-13, 0-6).
The lead changed hands three times down the stretch before the game was capped by Meyer’s bucket.
Ryan Potter had a chance to win it for Linfield, but missed a jumper with three seconds remaining.
At Pacific Lutheran 62, Willamette 55: Dylan Foreman scored a game-high 18 points and the Lutes (5-9, 3-2 NWC) withstood a rally by the Bearcats (4-11, 2-4) to emerge victorious.
Willamette went on an 19-5 run in the second half to shrink Pacific Lutheran’s lead to 51-55, but didn’t pull any closer.
Brandon Lester scored 11 points and Austen Wilson hauled down 13 rebounds for the Lutes.