Women's Hoops Opens 2019 with NWC Contests

Women's Hoops Opens 2019 with NWC Contests

by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant

SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth Pirates restart Northwest Conference play this weekend when they travel to Oregon to take on Lewis & Clark before returning home for a mid-week tilt with Whitman.

The Bucs take on the Pios at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, January 4, and they host the Blues on Tuesday, January 8 at 6:00 p.m. Live video and statistics links for both games are available on the Whitworth women's basketball schedule. 

The Pirates:  Whitworth (7-4, 2-0 NWC) closed its non-conference schedule by splitting its games at the Regals Classic. The Bucs fell to William Smith in the tournament opener before bouncing back with a win over Cal Lutheran.

William Smith held Whitworth to 26% shooting in the Pirates' 78-49 loss. No Pirate scored in double figures and only one, Madison Abbott, shot over 50% in the loss. Abbott and Madison Moffat led the team offensively with eight points each. On the other side of the floor, William Smith shot 50% overall and 35% from beyond the arc to earn the win.

The Bucs bounced back the following day against Cal Lutheran. Whitworth held a lead of at least ten points in every quarter and held off a late comeback to earn a 70-68 win. Megan Dorney and Camy Aguinaldo led the offense with 16 points each, and Sydney Abbott keyed the defense with three steals.

The Opponents: Lewis & Clark (2-9, 1-1 NWC) enters its game with the Pirates looking to snap a five-game losing streak. Most recently, the Pioneers fell 85-41 to Bethel (Mont.) in their lone game since Dec. 12. The Pios swept the Pirates in 2017-18, winning 74-71 in Spokane and 88-77 (OT) in Portland. 

Lewis & Clark enters the weekend struggling defensively. The Pios allow opponents to score 75 points per game, 5.4 points more than the next closest team. On the other end of the floor, Alyx Crager and Delsie Johnson led the Pioneers with 12.8 and 11.4 points per game respectively. Johnson also leads the Pios on the boards with 9.3 rebounds per game. Janessa Willie paces the offense with 3 assists per game. 

Whitman (8-3, 2-0, NWC) comes into the week having won six of its last seven games with its lone loss during the stretch against second-ranked Thomas More. The Blues most recent games were a pair of wins over Williams (65-59) and Northwestern (Minn.) (73-63). Whitman swept Whitworth last season with a 101-68 win in Walla Walla and an 83-49 win in Spokane. 

The Blues enter the weekend as the top passing team in the Northwest Conference with 17.4 assists per game. Individually, Taylor Chambers and Mady Burdett both boast impressive assist numbers with 4.9 and 3.7 per game. Whitman's excellent passing is one of the reasons the Blues lead the Northwest Conference with 78 points per game. Makana Stone (16.5 points/game), Burdett (14.5 points/game), and Kaylie McCracken (10 points/game) all score in double figures. Burdett also ranks second in the NWC in three point percentage (46.9%), and Whitman knocks down 37.9% of their shots from beyond the arc as a team.

How May We Assist You: The Bucs' early season success is due in part to their willingness to share the ball. Whitworth's 15.4 assists per game are third-best in the NWC.

All-Conference Camy: Sophomore point guard Camy Aguinaldo established herself as one of the best point guards in the Northwest Conference on the way to an NWC Freshman of the Year award last year. This season Aguinaldo is making an impact all over the court once again with 10.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.9 assists 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. Moffat is continuing to stuff the stat sheet this season with 8.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. 

She Shoots, She Scores: When Megan Dorney shoots, odds are high that the ball is headed to the bottom of the net. The freshman post is Whitworth's second-leading scorer (10.4 points/game) thanks to her NWC-leading 54.3% shooting from the floor. 

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 hit the road once again, traveling to Oregon to take on George Fox and Linfield on January 11-12.

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.