SPOKANE, Wash. –Returning to the hardwood after a two and a half week break from competition, the Whitworth women's basketball team defeated Warner Pacific College 77-62 in Whitworth Fieldhouse on Friday evening.
Whitworth improves to 8-2 on the season, while Warner Pacific falls to 7-7.
"I was really proud of the effort and focus after a long Christmas break," Whitworth head coach Helen Higgs said.
The Pirates last played on December 9th, when they lost at Eastern Oregon, but break did not seem to have an effect on the team. Senior Emily Guthrie put Whitworth on the scoreboard first as she hit a three-pointer on the Pirates first possession, but the Knights followed with back-to-back jumpers from Chelsey Christensen to take the lead back. Warner Pacific went up 10-5 over the Pirates on a basket by Tori Carroll, but a three from junior Jamie Lyons and a basket from sophomore Katara Belton-Sharp tied the score a 10-10. Senior Lauren Picha converted a Knight turnover into a three-pointer to give Whitworth the lead and the Pirates pushed ahead. The Bucs led by as many as 12 points in the first half before taking a 37-28 lead into halftime.
The Pirates scored on back-to-back layups from redshirt junior Emily Travis and junior Kendra Lahue after the break and went up by 13, but the Knights were not going away quietly. Chelsey Christensen cut Whitworth's lead to single digits just under three-minutes into the second half. With 15:20 remaining, Christensen sank a pair of free throws to pull Warner Pacific within six points. Junior Kayla Johnson followed a three-pointer with another jumper on consecutive Whitworth possessions to push the Bucs ahead by 11 and it proved to be just enough to keep them out of Warner Pacific's reach.
The Bucs finished the night with 21 assists on 31 field goals. Whitworth also converted 19 Warner Pacific turnovers into 25 points. The Pirates also recorded five blocked shots, with freshman KC McConnell finishing the night with three blocks.
"It was another great team effort by the Pirates," said Higgs. "Balanced scoring and a team focus, as seen with our 21 assists, as well as a great defensive effort by the team helped us to the victory."
Emily Travis led Whitworth with 14 points, while Lauren Picha added 13 points and dished out eight assists. Jamie Lyons and KC McConnell each chipped in 11 points for the Bucs, while Lyons and Kendra Lahue grabbed 10 rebounds apiece to lead the Pirates.
Warner Pacific was led by Chelsey Christensen, who had a game-high 26 points. Morgan Wolff and Tori Carroll added 10 points apiece. Wolff led the Knights on the boards, grabbing nine rebounds. Nichole Jackson dished out a game-high 10 assists on the night.
Next up, Whitworth travels to Lewiston, Idaho to take on Lewis-Clark State College on Sunday, December 30 at 2:00 pm.