NEWBERG, Ore. – The Whitworth University women’s basketball team will advance to the Northwest Conference Tournament championship game after defeating 13th-ranked George Fox, 74-55, on Thursday evening in Wheeler Sports Center.
Whitworth improves to 19-7 on the season and will face top-ranked Whitman College on Saturday evening. George Fox falls to 22-4 overall and the Bruins will await their NCAA postseason fate when the Division III NCAA bracket is released on Monday.
Senior Kendra Lahue hit her first two three-pointers of the game to give Whitworth a 6-2 lead early. The Pirates went cold on the offensive end, scoring their next ten points from the free throw line. Sophomore KC McConnell made Whitworth’s first field goal in over 13 minutes of action, sparking an 8-0 run from the Pirates to tie the game 22-22. Junior Katara Belton-Sharp hit a shot just inside the three-point line to pull Whitworth within one, 25-24, with under a minute left in the first half. George Fox made one of two free throws to take a 26-24 lead into halftime.
Sophomore Lexie Zappone opened the second half with a three-pointer to put Whitworth in front 27-26. The teams traded leads over the next three possessions before McConnell scored five unanswered points to put the Pirates up 32-28. Zappone drove to the basket for a lay in that gave Whitworth its first double digit lead of the game, 48-38. The Pirates led by as many as 18 points in the second half, after a pair of free throws from junior Kendra Knutsen. Whitworth made 15 straight free throws in the final 2:05 to seal the win.
Whitworth rebounded from 24 percent (6-25) first half field goal percentage to shoot 52.2 percent (12-23) in the second half. The Pirates shot 30-34 for 88.2 percent from the free throw line in the game. George Fox shot 35.1 percent (20-57) from the floor and 62.5 (10-16) from the free throw line for the game. The Pirates held a 40-36 rebounding edge.
KC McConnell led Whitworth with 19 points and was 12-12 from the free throw line. Senior Kayla Johnson added 14 points and led the Pirates with nine rebounds. Kendra Lahue chipped in 12 points on 4-of-7 three-point shooting. McConnell pulled down eight rebounds and Lahue had seven boards for Whitworth. Lexie Zappone dished out a game-high five points. McConnell and Lahue each had two steals.
Nicole Blizzard led the Bruins with 12 points. Justine Benner, Megan Arnoldy and Jami Roos each had 10 points for George Fox. Benner led the Bruins with eight rebounds. Hayley Cusick and Lauren Codling dished out four assists apiece.