Lewis & Clark's season ends in NWC semis

Lewis & Clark's season ends in NWC semis

NEWBERG, Ore. -- Another Northwest Conference tournament appearance concluded the Lewis & Clark Pioneers' season on Thursday night in an 80-41 loss to the George Fox Bruins at Wheeler Sports Center.

The defeat ends the senior season for six Lewis & Clark student-athletes including Miyah Leith who led the Pioneers with 15 points on Thursday. Leith finished 6 of 15 from the field and had five rebounds to finish her career with 1,189 points, sixth most in school history.

Entering the game, Lewis & Clark had won 14 games this season, giving the Pioneers 30 total over the first two seasons under head coach Pamela Findlay. Following a three-win campaign in 2015-16, the Pios had won just 11 games in two seasons before Findlay's arrival. Thursday's loss was Lewis & Clark's second consecutive exit in the NWC semis.

Lewis & Clark, the No. 4 seed in the NWC tournament, struggled to make shots and keep top-seed George Fox off the offensive boards as the Pios dug an early hole. Lewis & Clark took a brief 2-0 lead before falling behind 24-8 by the end of the first quarter and 43-17 by halftime after enduring two separate stretches without a field goal, one of over three minutes before another of six minutes into the second quarter. By the midway point of the second, George Fox had a 10-2 advantage in second-chance points off of nine offensive rebounds. The Bruins ended the game outscoring the Pios, 15-4, in that category.

The Pioneers (14-12) opened the second quarter missing their first four shots on the way to a 4 of 16 performance over the 10 minutes. Lauren Wood, whose four rebounds moved her past Megan Spence for ninth all-time in program history, finished 1 of 11 from the field for two points. Rachel Cox had the second-most points (6) for the Pioneers and a team-high eight rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench in her final game. Sara Hogman scored six as well, all in the second half, during her 17 minutes. Outside of Leith, Lewis & Clark starters totaled nine points: Alyx Crager had three, while Kelley Koeppen, Janessa Willie and Wood had two apiece.

George Fox, ranked 15th in the country, was led by 16 points from Emily Spencer and 11 from both Haylee Hutzler and Emily Holder. The Bruins (23-3) advance to the NWC title game for the third time in four seasons.

Despite a 22-4 differential in points off turnovers, Lewis & Clark seemingly handled George Fox's normal full-court pressure on Thursday as the Pioneers committed just nine turnovers in the first half. A 13-7 difference in offensive rebounding in the opening 20 minutes, which became 21-13 by the game's end, helped George Fox separate itself early, as did a 9 of 13 first-half performance from the free-throw line. The Bruins finished 17 of 26, while the Pios were 8 of 12.

Playing in their final game, Jackie Lizarraga finished with two points and two rebounds in six minutes, while Natalie Kelly played 11 minutes and finished with a rebound and a steal.

George Fox will host No. 3 Willamette on Saturday in the conference title game.

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