SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth University women's basketball team weathered a strong Puget Sound second half run to defeat the Loggers and remain undefeated in conference play after an 83-74 Northwest Conference win over the Loggers on Saturday evening in Whitworth Fieldhouse. Whitworth improves to 10-3 overall, with a 4-0 record in the NWC. Puget Sound falls to 8-5 overall, 1-3 in the NWC.
"We started out a bit sluggish on the defensive end, but I thought we battled really hard, especially in the second half," Whitworth head coach Helen Higgs said.
Sophomore KC McConnell and senior Jamie Lyons scored back-to-back layups to put the Pirates on the up 4-4 in the early going. Puget Sound came back to knot the score 4-4, but Whitworth used a 10-3 run to take a 14-7 lead with 14:03 left in the half. The Pirates led by as many as 17 points, after a pair of free throws from Lyons, but the Loggers put together a 13-4 run to close out the half and cut the lead to single digits. Whitworth led 46-40 at halftime.
The Loggers opened the second half with a 13-7 run to tie the game 53-53 with 14:57 minutes left, but sophomore Lexie Zappone hit a jumper to put the Pirates back in front. Senior Kayla Johnson sparked the Pirates, scoring 15 of her 27 points in the second half to lead Whitworth to an 83-74 win.
Whitworth scored 22 points off of 14 Puget Sound turnovers, while only turning the ball over eight times. The Pirates held a 44-31 edge in rebounding, and scored 20 second chance points. The Pirates finished the game shooting 80.6 percent (29-36) from the free throw line.
Johnson tied her career high with 27 points to lead the Pirates and four of her seven rebounds came on the offensive glass. Junior Katara Belton-Sharp added 12 points and grabbed six rebounds for Whitworth, while senior Kendra Lahue chipped in 11 points. KC McConnell led the Pirates with eight rebounds. Lexie Zappone dished out a team-high five assists.
Amanda Forshay led the Loggers with 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three blocks. Katy Ainslie scored 11 points for Puget Sound, and Emily Sheldon added 10 points.
Next up, Whitworth returns to Oregon where the Pirates take on George Fox at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, January 17th and Linfield at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 18th.