by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth Pirates have an opportunity to finish the regular season on a strong note this weekend when they travel to the Tacoma-area to take on Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran.
The Bucs are scheduled to open the weekend with a 6 p.m. game against the Lutes on Friday, February 15. They take on the Loggers the following day in a 4 p.m. contest.
Live video and statistics links for both games are available on the Whitworth women's basketball schedule.
The Pirates: Whitworth (11-12, 6-8 NWC) dropped both of its games last weekend to Linfield and #13 George Fox.
The Pirates battled with the Wildcats, but Linfield pulled away in the fourth quarter to earn an 80-72 win. Kory Oleson scored 15 of her game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter, including 10 of the Wildcats' final 11 points. Camy Aguinaldo countered with 24 points for the Pirates, but it wasn't enough to earn the win.
Whitworth's seniors put #13 George Fox on upset alert in the last home game of their careers, but their efforts weren't quite enough to hold off the Bruins' late charge in an 84-62 defeat. Madison Moffat and Alli Kieckbusch combined for 27 points, including a 9-0 run that pulled Whitworth back into the game. The Pirates took a 30-28 lead midway through the second quarter and entered halftime trailing by just five, but the Bruins outscored the Bucs by 11 in the fourth quarter to earn the win.
Despite the losses last weekend, the Bucs still have an outside shot at the fourth and final spot in the Northwest Conference tournament if they win twice this weekend.
The Opponents: Pacific Lutheran (14-8, 7-7 NWC) enters the weekend on a two-game winning streak after taking down Pacific (Ore.) and Lewis & Clark last weekend. The Lutes are tied with Linfield for the final spot in the Northwest Conference tournament, one game ahead of the Pirates. Last time the Bucs and Lutes played, Whitworth emerged with an 81-57 win. Talia Brandner came off the bench to score 19 points on 7-8 shooting in the victory
Its performance against the Pirates notwithstanding, Pacific Lutheran has been one of the best defensive teams in the Northwest Conference this season. The Lutes allow just 61.1 points per game, which is third in the NWC behind conference leaders George Fox and Whitman. On the other end of the floor, Madison Salisbury and Katie Taylor lead the PLU offense. Salisbury is one of the best scoring centers in the conference with 14.1 points per game that she pairs with 8.2 rebounds per game. Taylor is one of the NWC's deadliest shooters from three, making 46.6% of her shots beyond the arc on the way to 11.3 points per game.
Puget Sound (18-4, 11-3) enters the weekend with an opportunity to earn home court advantage in the NWC tournament with wins over Whitman and Whitworth. The Loggers have won four straight games coming into the weekend. Last time they squared off with the Pirates, Puget Sound eked out a 59-54 win despite committing 29 turnovers and allowing a 14-point comeback. Jamie Lange saved the Loggers with 26 points and 15 rebounds.
The double-double was nothing new for Lange, who averages the most rebounds (11.5) and third-most points (17.8) in the Northwest Conference. She also has the sixth-most blocks per game with 1, narrowly behind Logger freshman Giavanna Sorn (1.3 – 2nd in NWC). Lange and senior wing Elizabeth Prewitt (15.9 points/game) form a dangerous inside-outside duo for the Loggers, whose offense ranks third in the NWC with 72.2 points per game.
Tough Sledding: The Pirates have played a schedule stacked full of nationally ranked teams from Division II and III. The Bucs have taken on #2 Thomas More (#4 at the date of the game), #11 George Fox (#12, #13), #25 Whitman (#24) and Division II #7 Northwest Nazarene (#7).
Strength in Numbers: Whitworth's bench has provided plenty of scoring this season. The Bucs bench scores 26.4 points per game, while Pirate opponents have only scored 21.6 points per game. The Whitworth bench's best performance of the year came against Pacific Lutheran, when it scored 50 points. Talia Brandner led that effort with 19 points and Sydney Abbott contributed 10 more.
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 a team-leading 13.8 points, 2.9 assists, and 1.9 steals 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 8.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 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 third-leading scorer (8 points/game) thanks to shooting 50.9 % from the floor, which is the fourth-best percentage in the NWC.
Easy as 1-2-3: Talia Brandner has been one of Whitworth's best shooters from all over the court this season. The freshman combo guard shoots 76.5% from the free throw line, 46.6% from the floor, and 34.2% from three.
On the Air Again: Whitworth's Northwest Conference games are once again carried live in Spokane this season on KSBN 1230am. The relationship between Pirate athletics and KSBN goes back to 1994, a span of 24 years. Bud Nameck is in his third 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.
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.