Women Head to Tacoma for NWC Rematches

The Whitworth women's basketball team travels to Tacoma for a pair of Northwest Conference games against Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran this weekend. The Pirates will face Puget Sound at 6:00 pm on Friday, January 25th and Pacific Lutheran at 4:00 pm on Saturday, January 26th and will be the opening games in doubleheaders with the men's team.

Live statistics, video and audio links can be found on the women's basketball schedule.

The Pirates: Whitworth hits the road this weekend after wrapping up a home court sweep of Willamette and Linfield last weekend.

On Friday, the Pirates defeated Willamette, 69-50. The Bearcats took a one-point lead at the 12:53 mark in the first half, but the Bucs regained control and continued to push their lead after halftime. KC McConnell had 14 points, getting half of those from the free throw line, where she finished the night 7-for-8, and grabbed six rebounds to lead Whitworth. The Pirates forced 21 turnovers and used 20 offensive rebounds to create 23 second chance points.

On Saturday, the Pirates used a first half run to take the lead over Linfield and held off a late-game rally by the Wildcats for a 69-64 win in the Fieldhouse. Three Pirates finished the night in double figures, led by Kayla Johnson's season-high 19 points. Emily Guthrie hit five three-pointers for her 15 points, and KC McConnell had 13 points for the Bucs. Three Pirates had eight rebounds apiece to lead Whitworth on the boards, as senior Lauren Picha and sophomore Katara Belton-Sharp set new career highs in rebounds. Kendra Lahue was the third Pirate with eight boards. KC McConnell's six rebounds all came on the offensive end, as well as five of Belton-Sharp's eight, and the Pirates held a 23-5 edge on offensive rebounds.

Pirate Leaders:  Whitworth is led by freshman guard KC McConnell, who is averaging 9.3 points per game for the Bucs, and senior guard Emily Guthrie, who averages 5.2 rebounds per game. Guthrie is second on the team in scoring with 9.1 points per game, while junior forward Kendra Lahue is second in the team rebounding, averaging 4.6 rebounds per game.

Senior guard Lauren Picha leads the team with 2.9 assists per game, while redshirt junior Emily Travis averages 2.4 assists per game and Guthrie averages 2.0 assists per contest. Guthrie and McConnell lead the team with 1.4 steals per game, while junior forward Jamie Lyons averages 1.2 steals per contest. Guthrie and junior guard Kayla Johnson average 0.4 blocked shots per game.

The Loggers: Puget Sound holds a 10-7 record overall this season, 3-5 in the Northwest Conference.  Over the weekend, the Loggers fell to George Fox, 63-57, and Pacific (Ore), 72-66 in overtime.

The Loggers are led by Kelsey McKinnis, who averages 15.2 points per game and Sarah Stewart, who pulls down 8.3 rebounds per game. Stewart is second on the team in scoring, averaging 8.8 points per game, while Katy Ainslie grabs 5.4 rebounds per game for Puget Sound. Emily Sheldon leads the team with 2.5 assists per game and 1.5 steals per contest.

Puget Sound averages 66.8 points per game and has a rebounding margin of 4.7 this season. The Loggers lead the conference in three-point field goal percentage (.360), are second in the league for their free throw percentage (.739) and are third in rebounds per game (44.4).

The Pirates defeated the Loggers earlier in the season, 72-59 in the Fieldhouse. Friday's game is the 51st meeting between the two teams, and Puget Sound leads the all-time series 31-19.

The Lutes: Pacific Lutheran enters this week with a record of 6-9 overall, 3-5 in the Northwest Conference. The Lutes fell at Lewis & Clark, 69-37, and at George Fox, 59-34, over the weekend.

Samantha Potter leads the Lutes with 12.2 points per game and 9.3 rebounds per contest. Andi Adams is second on the team in scoring, averaging 8.5 points per game, while Megan Abdo and Chrissy Swope average 5.6 rebounds for PLU. Austin Schorno averages 2.7 assists per game for the Lutes, and Kara Sherman has 2.1 steals per contest.

The Lutes average 55.4 points per game and have a rebounding margin of 5.1 this season. Pacific Lutheran is fourth in the conference with 43.7 rebounds per game.

In December, the Pirates defeated Pacific Lutheran, 72-53 in the Fieldhouse. Saturday's game is the 60th meeting between the two programs, and PLU leads the all-time series 33-26.

NWC Leaders: All three teams feature players that are among the top five in several statistical categories in the Northwest Conference.

Whitworth's KC McConnell leads the conference with her .523 three-point field goal percentage, while Lauren Picha (.397) comes in fourth. McConnell also ranks in the top five for her .500 field goal percentage. Lauren Picha (2.4) is second in the assist to turnover ratio category.

Puget Sound's Kelsey McKinnis is second in the league with her 15.2 points per game. Her 41 percent three-point shooting also ranks her in the top five. Olivia Roberts' .421 three-point percentage ranks her among the top five, while Sarah Stewart's 8.3 rebounds put her in the top five as well.

Pacific Lutheran's Samantha Potter's 9.3 rebounds are second among conference players this season.

Dishing It Out: Whitworth is second in the conference with its 14.9 assists per game average. The Pirates ranked 10th among NCAA DIII teams for their 1.08  assist to turnover ratio. In a four game stretch, the Pirates had 66 assists on 107 made baskets. Against Warner Pacific, the Bucs had 21 assists on 31 made field goals, and at Lewis-Clark State College, Whitworth had 21 assists on 26 made shots. At Pacific, Whitworth dished out 16 assists on 22 field goals. During that span, three players tied or set career-highs in assists. Junior Jamie Lyons' four assists at Pacific tied a career high, while senior Lauren Picha (8) and redshirt junior Emily Travis (10) set new career highs against Warner Pacific and Lewis-Clark State College, respectively.

Protecting the Ball: In seventeen games this season, the Pirates have only had more turnovers than their opponents six times. The Bucs are tied for eighth among NCAA DIII teams with their 13.8 turnovers per game. Twice this season, Whitworth has had fewer than 10 turnovers in a game; their opponents have only had fewer than 10 turnovers in one game against the Pirates.

Whitworth for Three: In 17 games this season, the Pirates have made 147 three-point field goals, while their opponents have made 39. The Pirates are ranked sixth in Division III for their three-pointers per game. The Bucs average 8.6 three-pointers per game, while their opponents average 2.3. The Pirates have hit 10 or more threes in seven of their 17 games this season. Six Pirates have made 10 or more threes this season. Senior Emily Guthrie leads the team with 37 three-pointers, while senior Lauren Picha and freshman KC McConnell are second with 23 three-pointers apiece. Redshirt junior Emily Travis has 13 treys this season. Junior Jamie Lyons has hit 12 threes on the season, and sophomore Katara Belton-Sharp has 10 threes this season.

Triple Digits: In the win over Colorado College on November 30, Whitworth broke into triple digits for the second time this season and the third time in its history. In the 102-40 win, freshman Faith Emerson sank a pair of free throws with 1:25 remaining in the game to get the Bucs past the 100-point barrier. In the November 24th win over Caltech, the Pirates scored 105 points, which set a new record for most points scored in a game. This season is the first time that Whitworth has scored over 100 points in multiple games.

Three SWX Broadcasts: Local cable station SWX will carry three Whitworth women's games live this season. The Dec. 8 contest against Puget Sound featured play-by-play from Sam Adams and color commentary from Greg Hannan. In the other two broadcasts (Jan. 18 vs. Willamette and Feb. 1 vs. Lewis & Clark), John Fritz will provide play by play, while former Gonzaga star and NBA player Dan Dickau provides color commentary. SWX stands for Sports & Weather Right Now and is owned by local NBC affiliate KHQ channel 6. SWX can be seen both over-the-air and through some cable services in the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene, Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, and Yakima viewership areas. In the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area, SWX is found on digital channel 6.2, on Comcast channel 115 in Spokane and Time Warner channel 306 in North Idaho.

The Coach: Now in her 19th season at Whitworth University, Helen Higgs is the winningest and longest serving women's basketball coach in school history. Not only does she have a record of 263-192 heading into the 2012-13 season, the most wins in school history, her winning percentage of .578 is also the best all-time among Pirate women's basketball coaches. Since becoming members of the NCAA in 1999, Higgs put together the best stretch of records in school history. Whitworth went 124-53 (.700) in the seven seasons from 1999-2005.