WALLA WALLA — After collecting 14 points and 13 rebounds to spark a Whitman College comeback victory over Eastern Oregon University Saturday night, first-year point guard Kelly Peterson has been named Northwest Conference Student-Athlete of the Week for women’s basketball.
Pressed into starting duty in recent weeks due to a rash of injuries, Peterson has been up to the challenge.
Against Eastern Oregon in Sherwood Center, Peterson made 4-of-8 shots from the floor and 5-of-7 free throws to lead all scorers with 14 points.
Her game-high 13 rebounds included seven at the offensive end. She also contributed three assists (against one turnover) and three steals.
The 5-foot-8 Peterson made a number of key plays in the closing minutes with the game on the line. She canned a 3-pointer from the top of the key with three minutes left to extend the Missionary lead to 53-49.
Shaylee Neilsen countered 30 seconds with a 3-pointer to pull the Mountaineers back within a single point. At it turned out, however, those were the last points Eastern Oregon would score.
Whitman senior Michelle Krall drew a charge at the 1:41 mark, and Peterson grabbed two offensive rebounds inside the final minute to help take more time off the clock. The second of those rebounds led to a free throw by senior Hilary White with 15 seconds left, extending the Missionary lead to 54-52.
On Eastern Oregon’s final possession, Salena Leavitt drew a shooting foul on a drive down the lane with just 1.7 seconds remaining. With a chance to send the game to overtime by making two free throws, Leavitt missed both.
Peterson rebounded the second miss and was fouled. She made both free throws at the other end to ice the victory.
Earlier last week, Peterson had six points, four rebounds and three assists (and no turnovers) in a one-sided Whitman victory over Walla Walla University.
A graduate of Edison High School in Huntington Beach, Calif., Peterson is averaging 7.5 points and a team-high 5.8 rebounds through her first eight college games.
Mary Madden, one of Peterson’s high school teammates, is also in her first season at Whitman. Madden, who is averaging 7.5 points and 4.3 rebounds, had 13 points and seven boards in the Eastern Oregon victory.
Despite injuries that have claimed three starters and a key reserve, Whitman has won four straight games to raise its early season record to 5-3.
The Missionaries travel to Lewiston this Friday to play NAIA-powerhouse Lewis-Clark State.