Whitworth women secure final NWC playoff spot

Whitman's hopes for postseason play end with the 71-69 loss to the Pirates.

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WALLA WALLA - With four players scoring in double figures, the Whitworth University women nailed down the fourth and final Northwest Conference playoff spot with a 71-69 basketball victory over Whitman College Tuesday night in Sherwood Center.

Led by Cassie Pilkington's 20 points, the Pirates improved to 9-6 in the NWC (13-11 overall) while dropping Whitman to 6-9 and 11-13.

Both teams end the regular season this weekend against Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore. Whitman plays Linfield (4-10, 6-17) on Friday followed by Whitworth on Saturday.

Down by three points at halftime, Whitman inched in front 49-47 when senior Hilary White knocked down a 3-pointer with 11 minutes left in the game. Whitworth responded with an 11-2 run, but Rebecca Sexton scored inside to pull the Missionaries within 60-58 with three minutes remaining.

After both sides missed two free throws, Whitworth stretched its lead back to 68-63 with a minute left. White's offensive rebound putback, followed by two Michelle Krall free throws with two ticks on the clock cut Whitworth's lead to 71-69.

Whitman's Kelly Peterson picked off the ensuing Pirate inbounds near midcourt but her desperation heave to win the game failed to draw iron.

White, playing her last home game, finished with 25 points and eight rebounds, both game-high numbers. The 5-foot-9 guard was named NWC Player of the Week earlier in the day after averaging 22 points and eight rebounds in two weekend games.

One of three seniors on Whitman's roster, White ran her career scoring total to 953 points, which moves her past 1993 graduate Heather Denker into 14th place on Whitman's all-time scoring list.

Krall and Dawna Mello, the other Missionary seniors, added 10 and seven points, respectively. Krall also had four assists, two blocked shots and two steals while Mello dished three assists.

Whitman also got 11 points and five rebounds from Sexton and seven points and seven boards from Peterson.

Scoring in double digits for Whitworth, in addition to Pilkington, were Kim Bluff with 13, Leah Pomante with 12 and Keilah Fanene with 10. Liz Horiatis collected eight points and a team-high six rebounds.

Whitman won the rebounding battle 35 to 31, but the Pirates pestered the Missionaries into 16 turnovers.

Midway through the first half, Peterson's three-point play gave Whitman a 21-16 lead, but an 11-2 spurt by the visitors had Whitworth in front 27-23 with five minutes left before intermission.

After White followed with back-to-back 3-pointers for a 29-27 Whitman advantage, the Pirates surged again to lead 36-33 at the break.

WHITWORTH (71) - Pomante 3-7 5-6 12, Orrell 2-5 0-0 4, Bluff 5-8 2-3 13, Pilkinton 5-11 9-12 20, Horiatis 3-7 2-2 8, Picha 1-3 0-0 2, Guthrie 0-0 0-0 0, Travis 0-1 0-0 0, LaMoreaux 0-1 0-0 0, Delaney 1-1 0-0 2, Burke 0-2 0-0 0, Fanene 4-9 0-0 10. Totals 24-55 18-23 71.

WHITMAN (69) - Mello 3-8 0-0 7, Peterson 2-4 3-3 7, White 10-21 2-4 25, Sexton 3-6 5-8 11, Krall 3-7 3-3 10, Gilbert 0-0 0-0 0, Madden 2-3 3-4 7, Brice 1-3 0-0 2, Keyes 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-53 16-22 69.

Halftime score - Whitworth 36, Whitman 33. 3-point goals - Whitworth 5-19 (Pomante 1-4, Orrell 0-2, Bluff 1-2, Pilkinton 1-5, Picha 0-2, LaMoreaux 0-1, Burke 0-1, Fanene 2-2) , Whitman Total 5-16 (Mello 1-4, White 3-8, Krall 1-3, Brice 0-1). Fouls- Whitworth 18, Whitman 16. Fouled out-none. Technical fouls-none. Rebounds- Whitworth 31 (Horiatis 6), Whitman 35 (White 8). Turnovers-Whitworth 10, Whitman 16. Assists-Whitworth 7, Whitman 14.

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