WALLA WALLA - A six-minute, 17-0 run midway through the second half carried the Whitman College women's basketball team to a 60-59 victory over College of Idaho Sunday afternoon in the championship game of the Fourth Annual Kim Evanger Raney Memorial Classic in Sherwood Center.
Whitman, improving to 6-2 on the season, used its big second-half surge to turn a 37-30 deficit into a 47-37 lead with nine minutes left to play.
In a game marked by more than one big swing, the Yotes answered with a 10-2 run that clipped Whitman's cushion to just two points at 49-47 with six minutes remaining.
After the two sides traded two Missionary free throws for a College of Idaho bucket, Jenn Keyes drained her fourth 3-pointer of the afternoon to give Whitman some breathing room at 54-49.
Rebecca Sexton, who posted a double-double for Whitman with 10 points and 11 rebounds, hit a short jumper and Sarah Anderegg swished two free throws to push the Missionary lead to 58-50 with 2:45 left.
Nicole Gall, who topped all scorers with 31 points, was fouled on a 3-point attempt and knocked down all three freebies to keep the Yotes close.
But Keyes, who paced Whitman with 19 points, beat the shot clock with a tough driving jumper to make it 60-53 with just under two minutes left.
After Gall scored again for the Yotes, Keyes lofted a three that nearly dropped before rolling just off the side of the rim. Gall found the the hoop twice more, the second time with 47 seconds remaining, to draw the visitors to within 60-59.
With 36 seconds left on the game clock and 20 seconds showing on the shot clock, Whitman turned the ball over to give the Yotes a shot at the win.
But it was Missionaries, playing tough defense on Idaho's final possession, that escaped with the victory after forcing Gall into launching an off-balance three from the left corner that failed to drop in the waning seconds.
Keyes connected three times from the 3-point line in the second half while scoring 11 of her 19 points. Jenele Peterson, who gave Whitman a third player in double figures with 12 points, also had four rebounds and two steals.
Kelly Peterson chipped in with eight points and three assists for the Missionaries while Sarah Anderegg scored five points off the Whitman bench.
In addition to Gall's 31 points, Rachel Rasmussen had 10 points and a team-high six rebounds for the Yotes, who saw their season record slip to 6-6. Nicole Bruce blocked four shots to go with five rebounds and five assists.
Whitman, after shooting a frosty 27.6 percent in the first half, made nine of its 20 second-half field goal attempts to finish at 34.7 percent for the game. The Missionaries also capitalized at the free throw line, making 21 of 26 opportunities.
After shooting 48.3 percent in the first half, College of Idaho lost its shooting touch a bit over the final 20 minutes to finish at 34.7 percent.
Whitman won the rebounding battle 35-34.
After College of Idaho jumped in front 7-0 in the first two minutes of the game, Whitman tallied the next seven points with Keyes knotting the game with a 3-pointer.
The Yotes moved back in front 21-13 with nine minutes left, but the Missionaries answered with nine unanswered points to take their only lead of the half at 22-21 with five minutes still on the clock.
With 2:20 left, Madden hit two free throws to pull Whitman to within 26-24. College of Idaho surged again, scoring the last six points of the half to lead by eight at the break.
The Yotes led 37-30 early in the second half before Whitman reeled off the next 17 points over a span of six-plus minutes. Sexton made four free throws and Jenele Peterson went coast to coast with a steal to spark the outburst.
After two Anderegg charity tosses evened the game at 37, Keyes and Jenele Peterson struck from the 3-point line. Peterson sandwiched two more buckets around two Emilie Gilbert free throws to cap the run.
The four-team tournament concluded late this afternoon with Menlo College beating Walla Walla University 74-54.
Keyes, who shot Whitman past College of Idaho is the tourney title game, was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Sexton, who had 21 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots in her two games, also was named to the all-tourney team for the Missionaries.
College of Idaho's Gall and Rasmussen were also named to the all-tournament team, along with Nicke Parks of Walla Walla and Menlo's Erika Garcia.
Following a holiday break, Whitman returns to non-conference action later this month at a tournament hosted by Carroll College in Helena, Mont.
Whitman is off until it plays Montana Tech on Dec. 29 and Carroll on Dec. 30.
The Missionaries resume Northwest Conference action when it hosts Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran on Jan. 7-8.
Whitman 60, C of I 59
C of I (59) - Shannon 2-5 0-0 5, Drager 1-5 0-0 3, Rickman 0-1 0-0 0, Gall 12-24 3-3 31, Bruce 2-4 1-2 5, Hughes 1-5 0-0 2, Mitchell 0-0 0-0 0, Holt 1-2 1-1 3, Hansen 0-2 0-0 0, Rasmussen 4-7 2-5 10. Totals 23-55 7-11 59.
WHITMAN (60) - J. Peterson 5-10 1-1 12, K. Peterson 2-9 4-5 8, Forge 1-4 0-0 2, Sexton 2-4 6-9 10, Keyes 7-17 1-1 19, Webber 0-0 0-0 0, Brewer 0-0 0-0 0, Gilbert 0-1 2-2 2, Madden 0-3 2-2 2, Anderegg 0-1 5-6 5. Totals 17-49 21-26 60.
Halftime score - C of I 32, Whit 24. 3-point goals - C of I 6 (Shannon, Drager, Gall 4), Whit 5 (J. Peterson, Keyes 4). Total fouls - C of I 25, Whit 20. Fouled out - Whit (Sexton). Technical fouls - none. Rebounds - C of I 34 (Rasmussen 6), Whit 35 (Sexton 11). Turnovers - C of I 17, Whit 19. Assists - C of I 9 (Gall 3), Whit 9 (K. Peterson 3).