Written by Student Assistant Jake Bilyeu
TACOMA, Wash. – The Pacific Lutheran University women's basketball team wraps up the first half of Northwest Conference play by hosting Pacific University on Saturday. The game tips off at 4 p.m. inside Olson Gymnasium, and the Lutes are looking to bring all of their energy into their lone game of their weekend.
To do that, the Lutes (4-12, 0-7 NWC) will call on their stellar, constricting defense to control Pacific's offense. The Lute defense ranks first in the NWC in fewest points allowed per game (59), while also boasting the conference's second best three-point defense (28.8%). Additionally, the Lutes generate the second most turnovers of any team in the conference (18.5), and sophomore Emma Janousek leads the NWC in steals per game (2.6).
"We've really keyed in on our defense this year, right from the beginning," Janousek said. "We're not the biggest, we're not the most athletic, but we have the effort and communication to control our defense."
The Lutes certainly enjoy putting their opponents through the wringer.
"It's more fun to play the way that we play," Janousek said. "Everyone loves getting steals and then getting layups."
Janousek's steadfast improvement throughout the season has been a crucial development for the Lutes this season. After sitting out her first year due to injury, Janousek has stepped into her role for the team quite smoothly.
"Personally, I've been working on figuring out how to be a leader this year by communicating more," Janousek said. "I've tried to focus more on being a voice for the team this season."
Fellow guard Mackenzie Cooper has also played a leading role in maintaining the Lutes' defensive success. She hopes to help her team set the tone in Saturday's game from buzzer to buzzer.
"Getting a win this weekend means coming through with our defensive pressure," Cooper said. "We want to press them right from the start of the game, and never let them get comfortable in their offense."
After the Lutes host the Boxers, they'll travel next weekend to face the Whits for the first time since early December.
Jan. 20: PLU vs. Pacific at Olson Gymnasium (4 p.m.)
Promotions: Saturday's game is alumni day and Lute Club appreciation. Lute Club members will receive free food starting at 4 p.m.
Series History: The Lutes and Loggers have met 74 times since 1980 with PLU owning a 42-30 edge in the all-time series.
About the Boxers: Pacific (3-11, 2-4 NWC) heads into Friday's clash with George Fox University having won two of its last three games. The Boxers disposed of Whitworth University (80-72) and the University of Puget Sound (88-78) before stumbling 70-65 to Willamette University last Saturday.
Against Willamette, the visiting Boxers outscored the host Bearcats 20-9 in the second quarter, owning a 31-22 halftime edge but Willamette outscored Pacific 48-34 in the second half to secure the comeback win.
Jenee Brown is the Boxers' leading scorer, netting 10.5 points per game while Liana Tanaka adds 9.9 ppg. Charli Elliott is Pacific's top rebounder, averaging 7.0 rebounds per game.