SPOKANE, Wash. -- Whitworth rallied from a 13-point second half deficit, but could not finish the comeback in a 69-68 loss to UC Santa Cruz during the Quality Inn Oakwood Whit Classic on Friday night in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.
Kayla Johnson, a first-year player from Colfax, posted a double-double in her first career contest with 19 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Pirates in the season opener.
It was Whitworth opening a 13-point lead in the early going as Taylor Taylor scored seven points to help the Pirates grab an 18-5 lead. But the Banana Slugs (1-1) rallied to tie the score 23-23 on a three-pointer by Danielle Mofsowitz. Mofsowitz made four threes in the first half to key UCSC to a 45-41 lead at the break.
The Banana Slugs kept the momentum going into the second half. Another Mofsowitz three-ball helped UCSC open a 55-45 lead, then a three-pointer by Melody Barooni extended the advantage to 60-47 with 14:26 left to play in the game.
The Whitworth defense tightened up, holding UCSC scoreless over the next 7:50 and the Pirates used a 15-0 run to grab a 62-60 lead. Johnson scored four baskets during the rally.
The Banana Slugs regrouped and went back ahead 69-66 on an inside basket by six-foot post Lydia Andrews. After an exchange of possessions, Whitworth's Emily Guthrie had a good look at a three-pointer that could have tied the game with six seconds left. It went halfway down and out and was rebounded by Taylor who made two free throws with four seconds to play. UCSC then ran out the rest of the clock.
In addition to Johnson's double-double, Whitworth got 10 points each from Taylor and Emily Travis.
Mofsowitz led the Banana Slugs with 18 points and Zakiya Sharpe scored a dozen off of the bench.
Whitworth plays Northwest University on Saturday at 4:00 p.m., while UCSC takes on Whitman at 2:00 p.m.