SPOKANE, Wash. -- First game jitters might have gotten the better of Whitworth on Tuesday night during a season-opening 67-63 loss to Eastern Oregon in a non-conference women's basketball game at the Whitworth Fieldhouse.
The Pirates (0-1) led for the first 30 minutes of the game before the Mountaineers' pressure defense took its toll.
EOU (3-0) forced Whitworth into 18 turnovers, 11 in the second half, and the Mountaineers outrebounded the Pirates 42-33 - including a 17-6 edge in offensive boards.
Lexi Belcher scored a game-high 20 points for Whitworth, 18 in the second half.
Emily Guthrie made her first three attempts from three-point range to help Whitworth jump out to leads of 17-8 and 21-14. The Pirates took a 33-29 lead into the halftime, thanks in part to 44% shooting from the floor against only 31% for EOU. But even in the first half the Mountaineers were able to stay close because of their 22-16 edge in rebounds (10 on offense).
After EOU tied the game 37-37 early in the second half on a three-pointer by Brooke Randall, Whitworth responded with a 9-0 run, including five points by Belcher, to open a 46-37 lead with 14:27 to play.
But Eastern fought back to take a 50-49 lead on two free throws by Korrie Bourn. Whitworth took its final lead at 56-55 on a basket by Kayla Johnson with just over six minutes to play. But the Mountaineers forced four Pirate turnovers and got three offensive rebounds over the next four minutes and led 62-56 with just over two minutes to play. EOU eventually stretched the advantage to 65-58 with 22 seconds to go in the game.
Guthrie scored 13 of her 15 points in the first half, while Johnson posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Lauren Picha also had 10 points for the Pirates. Whitworth finished the game 22-51 from the floor for a respectable 43.1%.
Kyle Miller led EOU with 12 points, while Randall finished with 11 points. Vintea Georges came off of the bench for 10 points and eight boards. Bourn led all players with 11 rebounds. The Mountaineers made 35.1% (20-57) of their shots.
Whitworth will head to Decatur, Illinois for this weekend's Coaches vs. Cancer Classic hosted by Millikin University.