Women’s basketball drops to No. 3

by Peter Houston-Hencken

Last weekend ended with the women’s basketball team achieving a crushing victory over the Pacific Lutheran University Lutes, 75-52 and suffering a defeat from the Puget Sound University Loggers, 82-78.

The Friday night game against PLU started off with the Pirates gaining six points in the first two minutes. The Lutes were able to pick up two free throws but only at the expense of the Pirates scoring another six points.  By the first timeout at 14:03, the score was 12-2. Whitworth’s lead would not drop below 10 points for the rest of the game.

The Lutes had trouble handling the ball throughout the entire first half. They were unable to shoot or pass effectively, and ended up committing 19 turnovers by the end of the game.

Whitworth’s offense in the first half was led by junior guard KC McConnell with 14 points.

“Our offensive strategy was to move the ball around and to get as many hands on the ball as possible. When we got our defense moving, it seemed to work for our offense,” senior forward Lexie Zappone said.

The first half ended with the score at 38-12, but the Lutes buckled down on their accuracy and scored 40 points in the second half. Senior forward Jessica Kramer helped the Pirate offense by shooting back-to-back baskets from the field before retiring from the game after her fourth personal foul.

“Our defense is what definitely got us going. We tried to make them take shots that they’re not comfortable with,” coach Helen Higgs said.

The Pirates were able to score 37 points in the second half and ended the game with a score of 75-52.

The Saturday night game against the Loggers began on a high note for the Pirates.  McConnell and senior guard Kendra Knutsen were able give the Pirates a four-point lead less than five minutes in. By the first timeout at 10:53, Whitworth held the lead at 15-11.

However, once the Loggers scored seven points and took the lead at 7:39, it was a fight for the lead for the rest of the half. The first half ended with the Loggers in the lead, 36-30.

“The combination of their balance and actually hitting their shots was hard for us to defend,” junior reserve Faith Emerson said.

The Pirates struggled to keep up with Puget Sound in the second half, trailing by as many as 14 points at 8:17. Knutsen was able to bring the heat on offense and score 19 points in the second half. A narrow victory seemed within the Pirates’ grasp after senior forward Katara Belton-Sharp drained a 3-pointer, narrowing the gap to only five points with 21 seconds left on the clock.

“We wanted to use a quick trap to see if they’d turn it over. If they got through that then we’d just foul them so they’d have to come down and shoot free-throws and we would gain possession and score,” Kramer said.

The Pirates were unable to win or tie the game after giving the Loggers three points in free throws.

Whitworth lost their No. 2 seed in the NWC and finished the weekend with a record of 12-4 in the conference. The Pirates will face the Loggers again on Feb. 26 for the NWC Tournament Semifinals.

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