WALLA WALLA — Kelly Peterson toed the charity stripe for the first time in the game with 2.6 seconds remaining and the season-opener hanging in the balance for the Whitman women’s basketball team.
Peterson calmly buried both free throws to give the Missionaries a 3-point lead that would hold up against a last-gasp attack by the Macalester Scots, giving Whitman a 62-59 victory in the first game of the Kim Evanger Raney Memorial Classic here Friday at Sherwood Center.
The Missionaries were led in scoring by Jenele Peterson’s 16 points on 11-for-13 shooting. The 5-foot-7 junior spent most of her night slashing through the Scot defense for high percentage layups which accounted for nearly all of her scoring.
Post Rebecca Sexton chipped in another 12 points along with a stellar defensive performance that shut down Macalester’s leading scorer from last year’s Whitman-Macalester game, Ann Baltzer. The Scots’ starting post scored a scant four points, making only a single shot over Sexton for the game — and that not until the five-minute mark of the second half. Baltzer finished the game 2-11 from the field.
"They’ve got legit people inside and I thought we did a great job slowing down number 40 (Baltzer)," said a pleased Whitman coach Michelle Ferenz. "Last year she killed us. That was Bec’s (Sexton’s) matchup last year, and I thought Bec did a much better job. She really moved with her and made her take tough shots without fouling her."
Though the game was extremely close down the stretch, Macalester, of St. Paul, Minn., led only once, at 15-13, with 10:00 to go in the first half.
Quick buckets by Jenele Peterson from the elbow and Sexton inside put the Missionary women back on top at 17-15 — a lead they would never relinquish. The Missionaries capped the 10-0 run Peterson and Sexton started with back-to-back 3-pointers by Dawna Mello and Hilary White.
After a timeout, the Scots, who were in the bonus, slowly crept back to a four point deficit at halftime, 29-25, on the strength of one field goal, and 8-for-10 free throw shooting.
In the second half, Whitman again built leads — this time of 10, 12 and 10 points. But 6-foot Macalester forward Trina PaStarr would not let her team be so easily beaten. PaStarr led the Scots offense with 16 second-half points, and switched defensively to cover Sexton, limiting the Whitman post to only two second-half points.
PaStarr finished the game with a near double-double — 22 points and nine rebounds.
With 7:08 remaining and down 52-43, the Scots began their comeback. Two field goals apiece by PaStarr and Baltzer, along with a 3-pointer and two free throws by Maggie Wood led a 13-6 Scot rally that brought the score to 58-56 Whitman with 1:35 to go.
A give-and-go from Anna Forge to Jenele Peterson re-upped the Whitman lead to four at 1:15, but the Scots responded with six ticks remaining on a Jessica Brice 3-point basket.
With 2.6 seconds left, Macalester fouled Kelly Peterson, who stepped to the line and sank the final two points of the game. On the inbounds play, Macalester’s Danielle Johnson drove to mid-court but could not get off an errant shot before the buzzer.
Ferenz noted that the game might not have been as close or low scoring had the Missionaries not been missing two important pieces from last year’s team due to injuries, or had the Missionaries played less sloppily.
"It was our first game and we really turned the ball over too much," said Ferenz. "We didn’t do a very good job on the boards. We didn’t block out very well.
"We started the second half giving up five or six consecutive offensive rebounds and that kills you. You play great defense then give up an offensive rebound. We’ve got to fix that."
"Also, we’re down two pretty good players in Michelle Krall and Jen Keyes. Michelle and Jen averaged double figures (last year)," Ferenz said.
Though somewhat disappointed with her team’s play, Ferenz recognized the positives looking ahead to the rest of the season.
"For us to get this win against a team of this caliber is good. It’s a nice win for this group of kids to build on," Ferenz said.
In Friday’s other first-round women’s game, Lewis-Clark State defeated Whitworth 67-55. The tournament concluded Saturday with Whitman matched against L-C State and Whitworth vs. Mccalester.
MACALESTER (59) — Johnson 2-9 1-2 5, Bell 0-2 2-3 2, J. Rene 0-3 2-2 2, PaStarr 11-19 0-1 22, Baltzer 2-11 0-0 4, Jones 0-0 0-0 0, S. Rene 1-5 0-0 3, Ramirez 0-0 0-0 0, Wood 1-4 4-4 7, Berge 0-0 0-0 0, Lunde 0-1 0-0 0, Mucic 2-5 3-4 8, Schiedermayer 2-4 2-2 6.
WHITMAN (62) — Mello 2-5 0-1 5, J. Peterson 8-11 0-2 16, White 2-11 0-0 5, Forge 4-10 2-2 10, Sexton 6-7 0-1 12, Vaculik 0-0 0-0 0, Madden 1-6 3-4 5, K. Peterson 2-7 2-2 13, Brice 1-2 0-0 2.
Halftime — Whitman 29, Mccalester 25. 3-point goals — Macalester 3-11 (Johnson 0-1, J. Rene 0-1, PaStarr 0-1, S. Rene 1-4, Wood 1-2, Mucic 1-2), Whitman 3-7 (Mello 1-1, White 1-4, K.Peterson 1-1, Brice 0-1). Total fouls — Macalester 19, Whitman 14. Fouled out — Macalester (None), Whitman (Forge). Technical fouls — none. Rebounds — Macalester 47 (PaStarr 9), Whitman 36 (White 6, Sexton 6). Turnovers — Macalester 13, Whitman 15. Assists — Macalester 10 (Johnson 6), Whitman 12 (J. Peterson 4).