SPOKANE, Wash. – Shooting better than 60% after halftime, Whitworth overcame a halftime deficit against visiting Willamette and defeated the Bearcats 90-67 in the Northwest Conference women's basketball season finale for both teams on Saturday night.
The Pirates finish the season 11-14 overall and 7-9 in the NWC, alone in fifth place in the conference standings. Willamette ends the season 1-24, 0-16. Whitworth seniors Lexi Belcher and Taylor Taylor were honored prior to the game and went out with a win.
The Bearcats looked like they might pick up their first conference win in the season finale after shooting 59% (13-22) in the first half and leading for most of the period. Kaileigh Westermann made back to back baskets to give Willamette a 19-12 lead just under 10 minutes into the half. Whitworth rallied to tie the game 21-21 following a pair of free throws by Jenna Cacchillo. The Pirates eventually went ahead 27-22 on a put-back basket by Taylor, but Maya McFaddin answered with a three for the Bearcats and Willamette fought back to take a 33-32 lead into the locker rooms.
Trailing 38-35 early in the second half, Whitworth took control of the game with an 18-2 run, opening up a 53-40 lead. Emily Guthrie helped spark the rally with back to back three-pointers. The Pirates steadily extended the lead and went up 20 (64-44) on a jumper in the paint by Cacchillo. Whitworth took its largest lead of the game (79-52) on a three-pointer by Kayla Johnson with just over six minutes to play.
The Pirates made 61% (20-33) from the field in the second half, 64% (7-11) from three-point range. Meanwhile Whitworth held Willamette to only 37% after halftime.
Four Pirate players hit double figures in scoring, led by Lauren Picha's 16 points. Johnson scored 15, Guthrie finished with 14 and Belcher totaled 12 points. Taylor scored eight and led Whitworth in both rebounding (8), assists (4) and steals (4).
McFaddin and Westermann each scored 13 points to lead Willamette. Westermann also led the Bearcats with seven rebounds.