Pirates Use Defense To Defeat PLU

SPOKANE, Wash. -  The Whitworth women's basketball team forced 22 Pacific Lutheran University turnovers as the Pirates defeated the Lutes, 72-53, in Northwest Conference play in Whitworth Fieldhouse on Saturday.

Whitworth improves to 6-1 overall, 1-0 in NWC action, while PLU falls to 0-4 on the season and 0-2 in NWC play.

"Defense made the difference in this game," said Whitworth head coach Helen Higgs.

After falling behind 11-4, Whitworth went on a 10-0 run to take the lead in the first half. Sophomore Katara Belton-Sharp started the run with a pair of free throws and freshman KC McConnell gave Whitworth its first lead of the night on a made layup. Once the Pirates took the lead, they maintained it for the rest of the night. McConnell made another layup with 17 seconds remaining in the half to put the Bucs up 42-29 heading into the break.

"It was another balanced offensive attack, which makes us difficult to guard," Higgs said.

Whitworth continued to push after the half, and senior Emily Guthrie made a three-pointer that gave the Pirates their biggest lead of the night (17) with 18:37 remaining in the game. The Lutes weren't done though, as PLU went on a 19-4 run to cut Whitworth's lead to two points with just under 12 minutes left to play. Whitworth seemed to have gone cold, as the Pirates scored just five points over an eight minute span. The Bucs responded defensively, forcing 12 turnovers in the second half and never letting the Lutes tie or take the lead. Redshirt junior Emily Travis sealed the victory by sinking a pair of free throws in the last minute of play to give Whitworth a 19 point win.

"We were able to overcome a dry spell in the middle of the second half by holding PLU to just 5 points in the last 11 minutes." Higgs said.

Junior Jamie Lyons led the Pirates with 12 points. Junior Kendra Lahue added ten points for the Bucs while Emily Travis and KC McConnell each chipped in nine points for Whitworth. Emily Guthrie led the Bucs in rebounding, grabbing eight boards, while senior Lauren Picha pulled down six rebounds. Picha also finished the night with six assists and four steals.

Samantha Potter led the Lutes with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Megan Abdo chipped in nine points for PLU, while Chrissy Swope pulled down nine rebounds.

Next up, Whitworth hosts Puget Sound on Saturday, December 8 at 6:00 pm in Whitworth Fieldhouse and travels to La Grande, Ore. to face Eastern Oregon at 6:00 pm on Sunday, December 9.