OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Lauren Picha scored a career-high 27 points to lift visiting Whitworth to a 72-67 win at Evergreen State College in a non-conference women's basketball game on Wednesday night.
Picha, a junior guard from nearby Puyallup, enjoyed her own pre-Thanksgiving feast in front of several friends and family members by making 10-14 shots from the field, including 3-5 from three-point range. She added five rebounds and a pair of assists to help Whitworth improve to 1-3 this season.
Picha opened the game by making a three-point shot and the Pirates never trailed, or were even tied with the Geoducks (1-3). But the Pirates were never quite able to shake ESC either.
The Bucs opened their largest lead of the first half at 20-9 on a Picha jumper with just over ten minutes to go in the period. However the Geoducks fought back to within 21-20 on a three-pointer by Kristy-Lee Nahley. Whitworth reopened a ten-point advantage (31-21) when Lexi Belcher drained a three-point shot and the Bucs went into halftime ahead 37-32.
The second half followed a similar script. Whitworth grabbed a 48-38 lead on a Picha jumper just over five minutes into the period, but ESC got back within 52-51 on Mele Rich's basket five minutes later. The Pirates seemed in control when Kayla Johnson's basket upped the lead back to 62-53 with 6:23 left, but the Geoducks got back within one point two more times - the final time on a pair of free throws by Danielle Swain with 1:03 to play. Belcher answered with a jumper and the Pirates made 4-6 from the free throw line to secure the win.
Johnson added 11 points for the Pirates, while Emily Guthrie led the squad with nine rebounds and four assists. Belcher scored nine.
Whitworth continued an early season struggle with turnovers, giving away 27 on Wednesday night. But the Pirates' shooting was better as they hit 41% (24-59) of their shots. And Whitworth made up for the turnovers by outrebounding the Geoducks 50-28, including a 20-8 edge in offensive rebounds.
Swain led ESC with a game-high 27 points and she added seven rebounds.
Notes: Whitworth is now 3-0 all-time against Evergreen State, but this was the teams' first meeting since 1998...Picha's previous game-high for points was 16, accomplished twice last season.
Coming Up: Whitworth travels to Thousand Oaks, California for the Posada Royale Classic hosted by Cal Lutheran. The Pirates take on the host Regals on Saturday at 3:00 pm, then take on Chapman on Sunday at 1:00 pm.