Road sweep sends women into NWC playoffs

by Sasha Siclait

The Whitworth women’s basketball team concluded its regular season with two wins, beating the Linfield Wildcats 69-53 Friday night and the Willamette Bearcats 66-53. With the Friday night win, the team has now advanced into the playoffs as the No. 3 seed.

A back-and-forth contest against Linfield proved to be a tough win for the Pirates.

“A win’s a win, and this was a good game to build on going into tomorrow night’s game[Saturday], and playoffs next week,” senior forward Emily Travis said.

Travis led the Pirates with a season-high of 21 points.

The Bucs shot over 50 percent from the field in the first half and 62 percent at the free throw line, building a 33-22 lead in the half. Travis started off the second half with a steal and Whitworth continued to stay in the lead with two free throws made by junior forward Jamie Lyons. Unfallen shots and two turnovers put the Bucs back down and into a slump, but they pulled back out halfway through the second half to take a 10-point lead.

“It was rough in a couple spots, but we came out with a win and the bench was encouraging,” senior guard Lauren Picha said.

The Bucs ended strong Friday night walking away with a double-digit win over Linfield.

Saturday at Willamette the Bucs were down by seven points in the middle of the first half, struggling to defend the Bearcats with man-to-man defense.

The Bucs fell into a slump during the first half against Willamette, but came back up to a strong push to end the first half and had a 13-point lead.

Rebounds and good defense put the Pirates back into the game and they began to get the ball rolling again, forcing Willamette to commit multiple fouls.

The Bucs took advantage of fouls, going 15 for 16 at the free throw line.

The Bearcats came out in the second half with more intensity than before, cutting the deficit to nine points three minutes into the second half.

The Pirates didn’t surrender the lead, and built a 14-point lead with great defensive rebounds and playing tough man-to-man defense on the Bearcats forcing a barrage of missed shots.

With steals by sophomore forward Katara Belton-Sharp and junior guard Kayla Johnson, the Pirates took off from there.

Whitworth shot 86 percent in the second half from the foul line, and 73 percent for the game, helping the Bucs to a commanding victory against the Bearcats.

After the road sweep in Oregon to conclude the regular season, the Pirates now prepare for a playoff game against Whitman in Walla Walla on Feb. 21 in the NWC tournament.

Contact Sasha Siclait at siclait16@my.whitworth.edu

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