by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth Pirates hope to continue their three-game winning streak this weekend as they open Northwest Conference play against Willamette and Pacific (Ore.) in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.
The Pirates begin the NWC season on Nov. 30 when they take on the Bearcats at 6:00 p.m. A matchup with the Boxers follows at 4:00 p.m. on Dec. 1.
Live video and statistics links will be available on the Whitworth women's basketball schedule.
SWX TV Game: Friday's game will be televised locally on cable station SWX. Bob Castle will call play-by-play while former Gonzaga wing Shaniqua Nilles gives color commentary. Owned by local NBC affiliate KHQ (channel 6), SWX stands for Sports & Weather Right Now. 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 112 in Spokane and Time Warner channel 306 in North Idaho.
Hometown Harvest: Whitworth University is partnering with KHQ to support the local television station's Hometown Harvest food drive this weekend. Any fan that brings two non-perishable food items this weekend will gain free admission to Friday and Saturday Northwest Conference doubleheaders. The women's games start at 6:00 on Friday and 4:00 on Saturday, followed by the men's games. All donated items will support local food banks. Click here for more information about what items to bring.
The Pirates: Whitworth (3-1) emerged from last weekend with a pair of double-digit wins over Walla Walla and McMurry at home.
A pair of Hawaiian guards led the Bucs in their takedown of the Wolves. Talia Brandner (11 pts) and Camy Aguinaldo (10 pts) both scored in double figures in the 73-54 victory. Brander also shot a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc and assisted on two of Aguinaldo's treys. Both of Aguinaldo's threes came during an 18-0 run the Bucs used to close the first quarter with a 23-14 lead. Whitworth used a 19-9 second quarter spurt to put the game away soon after. The Pirates forced 22 turnovers in the win, keyed by Lexi Tinney's 3 steals. Eleven Bucs scored during the game and nine dropped in more than five points. Madison Moffat led the team with six rebounds and five Bucs dished out three assists each.
Freshman posts led the way against the War Hawks. Aimee Smith posted her first career double-double with 18 points and 16 rebounds in the 71-47 victory, and Megan Dorney added 14 points with 6 rebounds. As in their win against Walla Walla, the Bucs used an impressive first quarter run to take a big lead. This time, it was a 23-4 spurt that pushed the Bucs to a 25-12 lead at the end of the period. From there, Whitworth's defense held McMurry to under 30 percent shooting to earn the win. The Pirates outrebounded the War Hawks 50-30 with 22 offensive boards.
The Opponents: Willamette (3-3) will look to continue a three-game win streak in their first Northwest Conference games of the 2018-19 season. The Bearcats dropped their first three games of the year, but enter the weekend off wins against Cal Lutheran (51-42) and Pamona-Pitzer (65-63). Willamette went 17-10 overall and 12-4 during NWC play in 2017-18, including 79-77 and 67-56 wins over Whitworth.
NWC defenders welcomed the graduation of Kylie Towry, the conference's reigning scoring champion and Bearcat record-holder in total points, but Willamette returns plenty of weapons from last year's team as well. The Bearcats' second-leading scorer from 2017-18, Brittany Kochenderfer, returns and now leads the team with 13.9 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. Drew Farmer is also back and the junior point guard leads the team with 4.8 assists per game. Famer has also combined with Elizabeth Logsdon (8.8 ppg) to pick up some of Towry's scoring with 8.5 points per game.
Pacific (2-2) opened the year with three games against Southern Californian opponents, going 1-2, before returning home to defeat Evergreen State 70-62 as it enters into the NWC season. The Boxers went 5-19 overall and 4-12 in NWC play during the 2017-18 season. Pacific defeated Whitworth 80-72 in Spokane, but the Bucs extracted revenge with an 86-66 victory in Forest Grove.
The Boxers return leading scorer Liana Tanaka in 2018-19 and Tanaka has nearly doubled her scoring this season with 18 points per game. Ashley Jones is a close second in scoring with 16.3 points per game on an average of four three-pointers per game with 53 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Courtney Carolan rounds out the Boxers double-figure scorers with 12.3 points per game. Charli Elliot leads the team in rebounding with 10.3 per game and is tied with Tanaka for the team lead with 4 assists per game.
The Best Price is Free: Early in the 2018-19 campaign, the Bucs have been even better from the free throw line than they were last year. After leading the NWC by shooting 73.7 percent from the line last year, the Pirates have made 79 percent of their freebies this year, which ranks 15th in the nation
All-Conference Camy: Sophomore point guard Camy Aguinaldo established herself as one of the best facilitators in the Northwest Conference on the way to an NWC Freshman of the Year award last year. Aguinaldo's 5.3 assists per game led the NWC and were 20th-best in the nation, and she also led the team in scoring with 15.5 points per game.
High Motor Madi: Madison Moffat has been one of the best hustle players in the Northwest Conference, and placed in the top-five of the NWC in rebounds, steals and minutes last year The junior wing's 10.5 rebounds per game were second-best in the conference and her 2.4 steals per game were third-best. She led the NWC in minutes per game with 34.45.
On the Air Again: Whitworth's Northwest Conference games are once again carried live this season on KSBN 1230am in Spokane. The relationship between Pirate athletics and KSBN goes back to 1994, a span of 24 years. Bud Nameck is in his second season as the voice of Whitworth basketball. The co-host of 920 KXLY radio's Morning News, Nameck has more than 30 years of experience calling college basketball at Gonzaga University and Washington State.
Looking Ahead: The Pirates travel to Walla Walla next weekend for the Kim Evanger Raney Classic, which is hosted by Whitman College. Whitworth takes on Thomas More and Colorado College during its time in Walla Walla.
The Coach: Joial Griffith, a former assistant coach at Williams College (Mass.), begins her first season as the head women's basketball coach at Whitworth University in 2018-19. Prior to her year at Williams, Griffith was the assistant coach at Claremont-Scripps-Colleges in Southern California, near where she grew up. The Athenas made back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances during her two seasons, finishing 20-9 in 2017 and 23-6 in 2016.