Picha Lifts Whitworth Over Pacific in Overtime

SPOKANE, Wash. – Lauren Picha sent the game into overtime with a late basket, then hit a huge three in the extra period to help lift Whitworth to a 70-68 win over visiting Pacific University in a Northwest Conference women's basketball game on Friday night at the Whitworth Fieldhouse.

Lexi Belcher posted 21 points and 14 rebounds for the Pirates, who improved to 6-8 overall and 2-3 in the NWC.  Erica Schultz had 22 for the Boxers, who suffered their first road loss and fell to 9-4 and 2-3.

Whitworth took a 23-21 lead during a first half that included five ties and two lead changes.  Pacific led 13-10 when Schultz scored her only basket of the period with 7:43 to go. But Kayla Johnson scored twice during an 8-2 Pirate run that put Whitworth up 18-15.  Picha's three gave the Bucs their largest lead of the half (23-17),  but Nani Ostrom answered with a three and the Boxers were with two at the break.

Belcher's three-pointer almost eight minutes into the second half gave Whitworth its largest lead of the game (36-27).  But the Boxers fought back to get within 38-37 on a long three-pointer by Schultz. Erica Colter's three gave Pacific its first lead of the second half (48-47) and the Boxers eventually stretched the advantage to 52-47 on Brittney Anderson's basket with 3:35 left. 

However Picha answered for the Pirates with a three-pointer and another basket to tie the game.  Ostrom made 1-2 free throws with 12 seconds left to give Pacific a 58-56 lead before Picha came to the rescue again, driving for a basket with six seconds left to tie the game.

Schulz's jumper gave the Boxers a 63-60 lead halfway into overtime, but Picha hit another three to tie the game and Jamie Lyons scored a wide open basket to give Whitworth a lead it would not lose again. Schultz kept Pacific's hopes faintly alive with a leaning three pointer that pulled the Boxers within 69-68, but only 1.6 seconds remained in the game. Once Whitworth inbounded to Lyons, the game was essentially over even after a foul.  Lyons made one of the two free throws and Pacific was not able to attempt a final shot.

Belcher tied her career high for points a set a new career high in rebounds for the Pirates.  Picha finished with 19 points, while Johnson scored 12 and grabbed eight boards.

Schultz scored 20 of her game-high 22 points after halftime.  Heather Hitch scored 11 off of the bench, while Anderson finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.  Paige Jensen dominated the boards for the Boxers with 16 rebounds.

Whitworth will host Linfield on Saturday night, while Pacific travels to play at Whitman in Walla Walla.