Whitman Ends Whitworth's NWC Playoff Hopes

WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Whitman defeated visiting Whitworth 71-52 on Tuesday night to eliminate any chance for the Pirates to make the 2012 Northwest Conference women's basketball tournament.

Jenele Peterson scored 23 points to lead the Missionaries (15-9 overall, 11-4 NWC) to a sweep of the season series with Whitworth (10-14, 6-9).

Kayla Johnson opened the game with a basket for the Pirates.  It would be the only Whitworth lead of the game.  Peterson scored to give Whitman a 17-10 lead and Tiffani Traver scored inside to extend the Missionaries' advantage to 25-13.  Whitman led by as many as 19 points in the final minute before Lauren Picha hit a three-pointer to pull the Pirates back within 40-24 at halftime.

Whitworth tried to trim the lead to less than ten points early in the second half.  Lexi Belcher made a pair of free throws to pull the Bucs within 41-29 three minutes into the period.  But Whitman then went on a 17-1 run over the next seven minutes to put the game away for good.

Belcher led Whitworth with 11 points and seven rebounds, while Picha scored ten points for the Pirates.  Johnson dished four assists to lead the Bucs. 

Whitworth struggled to make baskets all night, despite a strong shooting night from three-point range.  While the Pirates made 41% (7-17) from beyond the arc, the Missionaries used six blocked shots to harass Whitworth into only 26% (16-61) shooting from the field overall.

Peterson made 10 of her 15 shots for Whitman.  Mary Madden added 12 points and Traver grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.  The Missionaries made 50% of their shots in the game and outrebounded the Pirates 47-35.

Whitworth came into the week needing to win both of its games and Puget Sound to lose twice to have a chance at the fourth and final spot in the upcoming NWC tournament.  The Pirates will now close the season on Saturday night by hosting Willamette at 6:00 p.m. in the Fieldhouse.

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