WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Trailing by 27 points with just over 12 minutes to play, visiting Whitworth rallied but could not overcome the huge margin in a 74-61 loss to Whitman in an important Northwest Conference women's basketball game on Tuesday night at the Sherwood Center.
The Missionaries improved to 14-10 overall and 8-7 in the NWC and took a huge step toward securing the fourth and final conference tournament spot. The Pirates fell to 11-13, 7-8 and need plenty of help to win the fourth-seed to the playoffs.
The Pirates only led in the opening minutes as Jamie Lyons hit a three-pointer to give Whitworth a 3-0 lead. Kayla Johnson's jumper gave the Bucs a 13-11 lead, the final Whitworth lead in the game. Whitman went on a 15-1 run, including three-pointers by Kelly Peterson and Janele Peterson, to grab a 26-14 lead. Janele Peterson helped the Missionaries extend the lead, hitting a basket just before halftime for a 35-17 Whitman lead.
The Missionaries extended the lead over the first eight minutes of the second half. Tiffani Brewer scored from beyond the arc to make it 45-21 and Whitman took its largest lead of the game (56-29) on a basket by Sarah Anderegg with twelve and a half minutes to play.
But then the Pirates woke up. Emily Guthrie hit a three-pointer to pull Whitworth within 57-40 with ten minutes to go. Lexi Belcher's three-pointer pulled the Bucs within 57-43 a minute later. When Taylor Taylor converted a three-point play, Whitworth was within 63-52 with six minutes to go. But that was as close as the Pirates would get.
Belcher led Whitworth with 15 points and six rebounds. Guthrie finished 3-6 from beyond the arc and scored 11 points while also dishing five assists. A strong second half helped Whitworth finish with a 44% (20-46) shooting percentage. Whitworth was 5-15 from beyond the arc. But Whitman dominated the Pirates on the boards (40-28).
Janele Peterson led all scorers with 18 points and she also had five assists. Brewer added 11 points while Anderegg came off of the bench for nine points. Whitman made 43% (24-56) of its shots from the floor.
Whitworth will now have to win at Pacific on Saturday night and hope that Pacific had beaten Whitman on Friday night. Also the Pirates need Linfield to lose at least one game this coming weekend.