by Jordanne Perry
The Whitworth women’s basketball team concluded their season with a 95-64 loss to the George Fox Bruins in the Northwest Conference Tournament semifinal.
With a couple of quick runs, the undefeated 27-0 Bruins gained an early 23-7 lead over the Pirates by the end of the first quarter.
“They used their athleticism well,” senior KC McConnell said. “They’re a really tall team and they really used their size and speed against us.”
Though the Pirates tried to recover by scoring 18 points, compared to the Bruins’ 20 in the second quarter, the Bruins completed the half with a 43-25 lead.
The second half opened with a 6-1 Bruin run. From there the Bruins did not let the Pirates get within 21 points of their lead.
“We played well against [George Fox] last time,” head coach Helen Higgs said. “We tried to build on that by trying to keep them in front defensively and take away certain things that they like to do, but they went to the inside more than they did last time and got hot from the 3-point line.”
A tough full-court Bruin defense forced 21 Pirate turnovers resulting in 14 steals, 27 points and a 95-64 win for George Fox.
“Defensively [in the second half], we tried to play in more because their post player [George Fox sophomore Kaitlin Jamieson] made seven for seven of her shots, which opened up the perimeter, but was the right decision to make,” Higgs said. “Then [George Fox junior Kimberly Frost] who has been shooting about 20 percent of her three’s hit back-to-back 3-pointers to get them another run. You have to pick your poison with them.”
Seniors McConnell and Faith Emerson concluded their collegiate careers as the leading scorer (24) and rebounder (5), respectively.
“It’s disappointing when the score is a margin of that size at the end of the game,” Emerson said. “But I love playing this team. I think it’s really fun to compete against teams that you know are going to push you to do your best.”
The Pirates finished their overall season 15-11 and 10-6 in the Northwest Conference.
“I love these girls and I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world,” Emerson said. “It’s unfortunate it ended tonight the way that it did, but friendships last for more than four years and I’ve made some that will last a lifetime.”
On Saturday, the Bruins faced the Puget Sound Loggers in the Northwest Conference Tournament Championship game. For the second consecutive year, George Fox claimed the 2016 NWC Championship title with a 76-57 victory.
Selection day on Monday, Feb. 29 will determine where the nationally ranked No. 2 Bruins will continue their season.