by Sasha Siclait
The season came to an end for the Whitworth women’s basketball team Friday night against the Emory Eagles from Atlanta, Georgia, losing 72-65.
Emory started with a tough full court press, which put pressure on the Pirates right away, but Whitworth came on strong, leading 14-9 early in the contest.
Whitworth soon lost the lead, struggling to keep the ball in their possession and committing five turnovers in the next five minutes, which allowed Emory to make up the deficit and play a competitive first half.
“I think we had some lulls and we didn’t put our foot down and get the stop we needed,” junior forward Jamie Lyons said. “We couldn’t find our fire tonight.”
Freshman guard KC McConnell soon went off though, taking care of the ball and firing up a 3-pointer and sunk two free throws for the Bucs, along with a jumper by junior guard Kayla Johnson. Johnson filled the stat sheet with eight rebounds, three assists, and led with 15 points for the night.
Whitworth looked for a lot of outside shots in the first half but they weren’t falling for the Bucs,but Emory came through with a 3-pointer and three rebounds and by halftime, Whitworth trailed 37-35.
Emory started off the second half with a 3-pointer by junior guard Hannah Lilly to set the tone and came on with more defensive pressure than before. Emory put on full-court press setting up a successful trap on the Pirates and forcing a turnover by senior guard Lauren Picha.
Whitworth had a tough time keeping the ball in their favor and had four turnovers by the three minutes into the second half and the Eagles took a 12-point lead.
“We kept our energy up, but they were a tough team,” Picha said. “We didn’t let them get a lot of run on us though, and we didn’t give up.”
Picha played a tough game with lots of pressure put on her from the Emory defense and she didn’t hesitate to put up a fight either. She drew multiple jumps balls for the game, and had two personal fouls.
The Pirates and the Eagles both got into a pit in the remaining eight minutes of the game, both teams holding stagnant and neither of them scoring for the next four minutes. There were multiple sub-ins by the Emory Eagles, but there was still no change in pace. Whitworth went for five shots, but they weren’t falling for the Pirates.
The Eagles took it from there going home with a 72-65 win and advancing them to the next round of the NCAA playoffs.
It was a winning season for the Pirates and an accomplishment to win conference for the team.
“This was a tough game, but a great season, and knowing that we are [NWC]champs is a great note to end my basketball career on,” Picha said.
For their last five games, the Whitworth Pirates have been on the road and have won some big games for their season.
“I think we did a good job at facing adversity and competing,” Lyons said.
The Pirates had a winning season finishing 12-4 in conference and taking the NWC champion title.
Contact Sasha Siclait at email@example.com