FOREST GROVE, Ore. – A late second half rally fell short in the final seconds as the Whitworth women's basketball team dropped a 65-60 decision to Pacific (Ore.) in the Bill and Cathy Stoller Center on Friday evening.
"We played hard tonight, but didn't finish on either end as well as we need to in order to win a conference game, especially on the road," Whitworth head coach Helen Higgs said. "This is evident when looking at our field goal percentage and the fact that we got outrebounded by double digits."
Whitworth (9-3, 2-1 NWC) turned the ball over three times in its first four possessions and eight times in the first ten minutes of play. Pacific (9-2, 2-1 NWC) used the extra offensive possessions to build a nine point lead before sophomore Kendra Knutsen hit back-to-back three-pointers to cut the Boxers' lead to two. Sophomore Katara Belton-Sharp sank a pair of free throws to tie the game at 22, but Pacific went on a 5-0 run to lead the Bucs 27-22. Senior Emily Guthrie sank a three with 2:58 remaining in the half and Whitworth went into the break trailing Pacific 29-27.
Junior Kayla Johnson hit a jumper to open the second half and pull Whitworth even with Pacific, but the Boxers answered with a 6-0 run and led the Bucs 35-29. Pacific went up by as many as eight in the second half, but a steal from freshman KC McConnell that led to a basket from redshirt junior Emily Travis cut the lead to four. Travis made several key plays down the stretch, pulling Whitworth within one at the 1:45 mark as she made one of two from the free throw line and then hit a three-point basket with five seconds remaining to pull the Bucs within three, 63-60, and timeout was called. Emily Guthrie had a quick foul out of the timeout, but Pacific's Kaila Johnson made two free throws to seal Pacific's victory.
"I'm confident that we will bounce back and I am encouraged by our 16 assists on 22 field goals and forcing 20 turnovers," said Higgs.
The Bucs finished the night with 10 steals, but committed16 turnovers themselves. Pacific held the edge on the glass, outrebouding the Pirates 44-32. Though Whitworth was able to tie the game on three occasions, the Bucs were never able to take the lead.
Kayla Johnson scored 14 points off the bench to lead Whitworth. Junior Kendra Lahue grabbed seven boards to lead the Bucs in rebounding. Emily Guthrie added 11 points and pulled down five rebounds for Whitworth. Junior Jamie Lyons dished out four assists, while Guthrie finished the night with three.
Four players scored in double figures for Pacific, led by Heather Hitch's 14 points. Kaila Johnson added 13, while Paige Jensen chipped in 12 points and pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds for the Boxers. Alex Pfefferle scored 10 points for Pacific.
Next up, Whitworth will play at No. 5 Lewis & Clark on Saturday, January 5th at 4:00 pm.