Formidable NWC Foes Await Pirate Women

Formidable NWC Foes Await Pirate Women

by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant

SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitworth women's basketball takes on two of the top teams in the Northwest Conference this weekend looking to snap a four game losing streak.

The Pirates travel to Walla Walla to battle 7th-ranked Whitman on Tuesday, Jan. 9 at 6:00 p.m. before returning home to take on George Fox on Saturday, Jan. 13 at 4:00 p.m.  

Fans can watch video or follow live statistics feeds for both games through links on the Whitworth women's basketball schedule.

The Pirates: The return to Northwest Conference play was not kind to Whitworth (6-7, 1-3 NWC). The Pirates re-opened NWC play with a close loss (74-71) to Lewis & Clark on Friday. Alli Kieckbusch led Whitworth with 18 points and Madison Moffat posted a double-double, but Erika Kuehn's game-tying three pointer hit back iron to give L&C the victory. Camy Aguinaldo scored 12 points with 7 assists and Grace Douglas rounded out the Pirates in double figures with 11 points.

On Saturday, the Bucs nearly managed a 12-point comeback win, but Pacific used a 7-point run in the final 1:44 to hand Whitworth its fourth straight loss 80-72. Moffat fueled the comeback with 5 points and 4 assists during a 21-9 run and finished with another double-double (12 points, 16 rebounds). Aguinaldo led the Pirates in scoring with 22 points, and Kieckbusch scored 19. Whitworth shot just 20% from three-point range. 

The Opponents: Whitman (12-1, 4-0 NWC) enters their matchup with the Pirates coming off an undefeated start to conference play. The Blues took down Lewis & Clark (75-50) and Pacific (77-65) last weekend. They have two wins over ranked teams this season, defeating #19 Puget Sound 80-69 and #13 Trinity 82-59. Casey Poe leads the Blues with 16.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. Makana Stone and Emily Rommel also average double figure scoring with 12.8 and 11 points per game respectively. The Blues won both games against the Pirates last season.

George Fox (11-2, 4-0) is also undefeated in the Northwest Conference heading into this week's games. The Bruins narrowly missed being in the d3hoops top-25, finishing first in "others receiving votes." They are coming off an 82-57 win over 19th-ranked UPS. George Fox features a balanced scoring attack led by Kaitlin Jamieson, who scores 10.7 points with 7.1 rebounds per game. Tavin Headings and Kylin Collman are the next two leading scorers with 9.6 and 8.8 points per game. Emily Spencer leads the Bruins' pressure defense. The sophomore point guard has 2.3 steals per game, which leads the team.

Green Light Grace: As far as Whitworth fans are concerned, Grace Douglas can fire away as much as she wants from behind the arc. Douglas is the best three-point shooter in the Northwest Conference, draining 47.8% of her threes. She is second on the team in scoring with 13.2 points per game.

Bombs Away: Douglas isn't the only Pirate firing away from beyond the arc. The Bucs are the best three-point shooting team in the Northwest Conference and make 38.1% of their shots behind the three-point line. They make the 6th-most threes in the country, 8.9 per game.

Speed Kills: Freshman point guard Camy Aguinaldo is ready to establish herself as one of the best facilitators in the Northwest Conference. Her 6.7 assists per game are the most in the NWC and the freshman leads the team in scoring with 13.3 points per game. Aguinaldo is also shooting 40% from beyond the arc, second best on the Pirates and fourth-best in the NWC.

High Motor Madi: Madison Moffat established herself as one of the NWC's top rebounders last season when she averaged 7.7 per game. Her 3.3 offensive boards per game were third-best in the NWC. This season, Moffat is averaging 10.3 rebounds per game, which is most on the team and places her in third in the conference.

Stretch 5: The Pirates are among the many teams in college and professional basketball who are electing to spread the floor. They're able to do so thanks to the contributions of Alli Kieckbusch. The 5-foot-7 forward averages 4.3 rebounds per game and is making 33% of her three-pointers in NWC play. 

Not in Her House: Nearly midway through her senior year, Chloe Quinnett looks like one of the best defensive posts in the Northwest Conference. Her 1.67 blocks per game are third-best in the NWC and her 7 rebounds per game are seventh-best.

Looking Ahead: After taking on Whitman and George Fox, the Pirates travel to Oregon to battle Linfield and Willamette.

The Coach: Heading into her 24th season at Whitworth University, Helen Higgs is the winningest and longest serving women's basketball coach in school history. She has a record of 351-238 heading into the 2017-18 season, the most wins in school history. Her winning percentage of .595 is also the best all-time among Pirate women's basketball coaches. Since becoming members of the NCAA in 1999, Higgs has put together the two best stretches of records in school history. Whitworth went 124-53 (.700) in the seven seasons from 1999-2005 and the Pirates were 78-31 (.715) over four years from 2013-2016.  Higgs currently ranks among the top 50 in all of NCAA Division III for total number of victories by active coaches.