Filip Timotija | Staff Writer
After coming off two close losses to Pacific and Linfield, the Whitworth women’s basketball team travelled to Tacoma to play Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound. The Pirates beat the Lutes decisively 78-71 but lost to the Loggers 76-63.
Whitworth took an early lead in the first quarter against Pacific Lutheran after showcasing great ball movement and ability to feed their post players. Olivia Mayer scored six points, establishing herself as the most effective offensive option for the Pirates in the first quarter. Whitworth was also solid defensively, limiting Pacific Lutheran to 19% from the field, and were up 18-13 after the first 10 minutes of play.
The Lutes started hitting their stride in the early part of the second quarter when they cut the lead to four behind Josie Napoli’s aggressive takes to the rim. Whitworth responded with great back-to-back defensive possessions which triggered a better offensive flow.
“I thought we did a good job defensively against PLU,” head coach Joial Griffith said. “We were able to keep players in front. The big key for us was defending Josie Napoli and I thought in the second quarter we did a really good job with that.”
Madison Hagen and Kimberly Dewey hit back-to-back threes to extend the lead to 10. The highlight of that stretch was at the 1:15 mark when the Pirates presented great ball movement on the perimeter which yielded a wide-open three that Hagen converted. extend the lead to 10. After this point both teams were trading buckets while failing to get defensive stops. Whitworth finished the first half with a Genevieve Symons face-up mid-range jumper to solidify a 44-32 lead heading into the third quarter.
The Pirates shot 17/35 from the field in the first 20 minutes. Early in the third quarter, they extended their lead to 14. The Lutes went on a run of their own where Napoli hit a runner to give the Lutes some offensive rhythm. Kasidy Javernick hit a three-pointer in the later period of the third quarter to bring the Lutes to a 54-49 deficit. The Pirates scored only two points in a five-minute stretch.
“Unfortunately, this year we had that [scoring drought] happen multiple times,” Griffith said. “Honestly, a little bit of focus – us not getting the shots that we were hunting and wanting which we definitely got in the fourth quarter with getting buckets inside. Our strength is definitely the inside game.”
Whitworth’s perimeter defense was keeping the lead alive, even while having issues with occasional boxouts. Devyn Cope broke the offensive drought with a free throw. Quincy McDeid chipped in with a mid-range pull-up jumper to get the Pirates going late in the quarter.
Pacific Lutheran won the third quarter 17-12, but Whitworth still held a 56-49 lead going into the closing 10 minutes of the game. The Pirates went on a furious 12-3 run to start the fourth quarter which effectively closed the game.
Pacific Lutheran tried to make the game interesting in the closing minutes by sending the Pirates to the free throw line, but that proved to be ineffective because they stepped out and knocked down their shots.
Megan Dorney led the Pirates with 19 points and eight rebounds. Olivia Mayer added 16 points and nine rebounds off the bench. Josie Napoli led the Lutes with 18 points (6/18 FG’s), while Kasidy Javernick added 14 points.
“Key to stopping [Josie Napoli] is not making anything easy,” Griffith said. “If she gets open looks that is when she is at her best, but even though she took 18 shots I don’t think any of them were easy. We had multiple people play physical defense on her – Madison Hagen, Quincy McDeid, Dawson Driggs, Tara Kaneshiro. All four of them collectively made her life difficult as an offensive player. We tried to deny her once she gave up the ball just so she didn’t have an opportunity to touch it. She is a smart player, so she obviously was able to get some looks but nothing easy.”
In their second game, the Pirates did not manage to pull out a victory over the hosting Puget Sound Loggers, who are the second-best team in the Northwest Conference. The Pirates opened the game well with an early 7-3 lead. The Loggers responded with a dominant 19-0 run to take a 22-7 lead.
The run was powered by their 2-2-1 press defense that disrupted Whitworth’s rhythm along with their efficient conversion of 3-point attempts. The Pirates committed four turnovers during this rough stretch.
“We knew that they were going to press us and they are really good in that formation,” Griffith said. “I know for us we talked about not having any flat passes in the back. We had a couple of those and they jumped on us. A little bit of being tired might have played a role, but their pressure was probably the biggest culprit.”
The Loggers shot 6/8 from distance in the first 10 minutes of the game. Puget Sound was up 30-13 heading into the second quarter.
The Bucs showed their grittiness by making their own run which brough them to a 35-26 deficit. The defense was the catalyst to this potential comeback because the Loggers shot 23% from the field in the second quarter.
“We definitely locked in defensively,” Griffith said. “We talked about defending outside-in and it definitely helped and they [UPS] also gotten into some foul trouble. We did step up our defensive game to get within nine at the half.”
Whitworth was still trailing 39-30 going into the second half, but the defensive intensity gave them a chance to reverse the course of this game. The Pirates opened the third quarter with a 6-0 run to pull themselves to a 39-36 deficit after a Megan Dorney layup. Puget Sound responded with a 9-4 scoring run which gave them a 48-40 lead.
Dawson Driggs was drawing fouls which allowed her to knock down four free-throws to pull Whitworth to a four-point deficit. In the closing minutes of the third quarter, the Pirates struggled to score which allowed the Loggers to take a 57-49 lead heading into the closing 10 minutes of the game.
With it still being a two-possession game, the Pirates had a couple of chances to tie or take the lead. Whitworth’s three-pointers were not falling which allowed Puget Sound to close the game in the final minutes of the quarter.
The Pirates were led by Megan Dorney who scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Olivia Mayer, Kimberly Dewey, Tara Kaneshiro and Dawson Driggs scored nine points each. Georgia Lavinder led Puget Sound with 14 points, while Samantha Swartout and Kennedy Brown had 12 apiece.
The Loggers shot 12/27 from distance while tallying 14 steals. Whitworth outrebounded UPS 44-31 but struggled with handling the ball due to committing 24 turnovers. The Pirates will complete the season this week by hosting George Fox on Friday and Lewis & Clark on Saturday in the Fieldhouse.
“I think getting the ball inside for us is going to be a big key,” Griffith said. “Giving our post players space and allowing them to go to work. Defensively for us – keeping their [George Fox’s] players in front, but also rebounding the basketball. They are a good offensive-rebounding team, so we need to keep them off the boards. To get to that we have to take care of the basketball.”
The Bucs lost their road game against Lewis & Clark and are now looking to bounce back with a more complete roster.
“I think the biggest one is having Megan Dorney back,” Griffith said. “She [Dorney] allows us to be flexible as a defensive team and their [Lewis & Clark] defense conversely is focused on her and where she catches the ball. The other thing with that is to adjust smoothly against their zone versus their man defense. The last key is defending Eva Richards. We have to defend her [Richards] a lot better than we did the first time and we have to take care of the ball.”