SPOKANE, Wash. – In a game that featured 15 ties and 15 lead changes, the Whitworth women's basketball team made the final push that led to a 78-71 overtime win over Pacific (Ore.) University in Whitworth Fieldhouse on Saturday evening. Whitworth improves to 16-5 on the season, 9-3 in Northwest Conference play, while Pacific falls to 12-8 overall, 5-7 in league play.
"We had a lot of people step up tonight and make big plays at both ends of the court tonight," Whitworth head coach Helen Higgs said. "After a big win yesterday we came out a little flat defensively but did a great job finishing plays."
Pacific got on the scoreboard first and took a 6-2 lead in the early going, but Whitworth responded with a 5-0 run and took the Pirates took their first lead on a three-pointer from senior Lauren Picha. Neither team was able to distance themselves, as the teams traded leads back and forth. Pacific took a 38-37 lead into the locker rooms.
The teams continued to trade leads and baskets after halftime, and were tied 53-all exactly halfway through the second half. Junior Jamie Lyons hit a triple to put the Bucs in front, but Paige Jensen answered with a basket of her own to cut into the lead. Freshman KC McConnell came off the bench and went on a 6-0 run by herself to push the Pirates in front by seven—their largest lead of the night. Sophomore Katara Belton-Sharp gave the Bucs another seven-point lead with just over five minutes remaining, but the Boxers answered with a 7-0 run to tie the score again. The Boxers' Heather Hitch had a chance to win in the final second, but junior Kendra Lahue blocked Hitch's layup and sent the game into overtime. Whitworth took control a minute and a half into overtime, rattling off seven points, which put the Bucs just out of Pacific's reach and allowed them to remain undefeated at home this season.
Whitworth forced 17 turnovers and converted them into 21 points, and finished the night shooting 62.5 percent (15-24) from the free throw line. Pacific held a 36-29 rebounding edge, but the Bucs outscored the Boxers in the paint.
Junior Kayla Johnson led four Pirates who finished the night in double figures with 18 points. Redshirt junior Emily Travis added 16 points, and Kendra Lahue and Lauren Picha chipped in 11 points each. Johnson also led the Pirates in rebounding, pulling down nine boards, while Lahue grabbed six rebounds. Travis dished out six assists while Picha and Jamie Lyons had four and three steals, respectively.
Paige Jensen led all scorers with a double-double, scoring a game-high 22 points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds. Heather Hitch chipped in 13 points for the Boxers, while Kaila Johnson and Olivia Cook each added 10 points for Pacific. Jensen had a game-high six steals for the Boxers.
Next up, Whitworth will face Whitman in Walla Walla at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, February 5th. The Pirates return to the Fieldhouse for Senior Night against George Fox on Saturday, February 9th at 6:00 pm.