Whitworth beats Whitman to clinch NWC playoff spot - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Whitworth beats Whitman to clinch NWC playoff spot

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by Whitworth Athletics

WALLA WALLA, Wash. - Cassie Pilkinton scored 20 points to lead Whitworth University to its most important women's basketball victory in five seasons - a 71-69 win at Whitman College that clinched a spot for the Pirates in the Northwest Conference post-season tournament.

The win improved Whitworth's record to 13-11 overall and 9-6 in the NWC. The Missionaries fell to 11-13 and 6-9.

Whitman took a 21-16 lead on a three-point play by Kelly Peterson, the Missionaries' largest lead of the first half. But the Pirates fought back with seven straight - two baskets by Pilkinton and a three-pointer by Kim Bluff - to take a 23-21 lead. The teams would trade leads three times until Whitworth took a 36-33 lead into the locker rooms at halftime.

Whitman used a 6-0 run to take a 42-40 lead early in the second half. Then Hilary White's three-pointer gave the hosts a 49-47 advantage, their last lead of the game. Whitworth went on a 7-0 run to take a 54-49 lead with just over eight minutes to play. Pilkinton capped the surge with a jumper in the paint.

The Pirates appeared to take total control when Keilah Fanene hit a three pointer and Natalie Orrell hit cut open for a lay up with under three minutes left that increased Whitworth's advantage to 65-58. But Whitman fought back to within 70-67 on a basket by White with 12 seconds left before Leah Pomante hit one of two free throws to make it a two possession game. That became important because after Whitman hit two free throws with two seconds left, the Missionaries stole a pass near midcourt and had a desperation attempt at a game winning three-pointer come up just short.

Pilkinton scored 11 of her team-high 20 points in the second half. Bluff finished with 13 points and Pomante had 12, but it may have been the career-high 10 points off of the bench by Fanene that made the difference in the game.

White led Whitman with game-highs of 25 points and eight rebounds.

Whitworth will conclude the regular season with a contest at Linfield College on Saturday night. The Pirates still have a chance to catch Lewis & Clark College for the third seed in the conference tournament.

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