Pirates Defeat UPS for First NWC Road Win

TACOMA, Wash. – The Whitworth women's basketball team opened the second half with a 10-0 run to get its first conference win on the road as the Pirates defeated Puget Sound 55-49 on Friday evening in Memorial Fieldhouse. Whitworth improves to 13-5 overall, 6-3 in the Northwest Conference, while Puget Sound falls to 10-8 on the season, 3-6 in conference play.

"We really changed the game with how we started the second half," Whitworth head coach Helen Higgs said. "It was great to grind out a road win and I am happy for the three seniors who won for the first time in Memorial Fieldhouse."

Both teams struggled offensively in the early going of the first half before Puget Sound made the first basket at the 17:32 mark. The Loggers had a 5-0 lead before redshirt junior Emily Travis sank a pair of free throws to get Whitworth on the scoreboard. Puget Sound kept a five point lead until a jumper in the paint from freshman KC McConnell cut the Logger's lead to one with 9:50 remaining in the half. After a Logger turnover, senior Emily Guthrie gave the Pirates their first lead of the night with a layup three and a half minutes before halftime. Once Guthrie put the Bucs in front, they continued to lead, going up by as many as four after a basket from junior Kayla Johnson. Whitworth led 23-19 at halftime.

 "We pushed through an early offensive drought and made some big plays to take the lead at half," said Higgs.

After its 10-0 run to open the second half, the Pirates pushed out to a 14 point lead in the opening minutes of the second period. Puget Sound got within seven points just under six minutes into the half, but Whitworth answered with two quick baskets from senior Lauren Picha. The Pirates saw their largest lead of the night when sophomore Kendra Knutsen hit a three to put the Bucs up by 15 at the 8:16 mark, but that would be Whitworth's last field goal of the night. Despite a 14-5 Puget Sound run in the last five minutes, the Bucs never trailed in the second half and held off the Loggers for the win.

Whitworth finished the night with 11 assists on 18 made baskets. Despite going 1-for-9 from beyond the arc in the first half, the Bucs hit five threes in the second half. The Pirates shot 68.4 percent (13-19) from the free throw line, hitting five of their last nine from the line to seal their victory.

Emily Guthrie and Kayla Johnson each had ten points to lead the Pirates. Junior Jamie Lyons pulled down eight boards to lead the Bucs in rebounding. KC McConnell tied her career high with three assists for Whitworth, while Kendra Knutsen tied her season high with four steals.

Emily Sheldon led the Loggers with 11 points, while Sarah Stewart grabbed nine rebounds. Amanda Forshay had eight points for Puget Sound, while Erin Stumbaugh had eight points and eight rebounds.

Next, Whitworth will complete its trip to Tacoma by facing Pacific Lutheran at 4:00 pm on Saturday, January 26th.