Defending NCAA Division III national champs down Whitman women

And Whitman is still searching for answers following a 60-49 loss to last year's Division III national champs.

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The odds are 3-1 against Whitman's Hilary White as she fends off George Fox defenders (left to right) Arianna Hohsenian, B.B. Gardner and Keisha Gordon while chasing down a loose ball Friday night at Sherwood Center. The Bruins beat the Missionaries 60-49.

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Whitman's Michelle Krall had a handful as she went to the floor and had hands and arms coming for her and the ball from seemingly everywhere Friday night in the Missionaries' matchup against George Fox.

WALLA WALLA — How do you beat the defending NCAA Division III national champion, when that team returns all but one graduated senior from last year’s undefeated squad?

If someone knows, call Whitman College women’s basketball team, because the Missionaries are still searching for the answer after the George Fox Bruins posted a 60-49 victory Friday night at Sherwood Center in a Northwest Conference matchup.

The Bruins (9-2, 2-0) used their signature stifling zone defense to curb Whitman’s outside shooting and force the Missionaries to go inside against the Bruins 6-foot-5 center. The plan worked to perfection as the Missionaries tallied only 16 points on 23 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes of play.

"The thing that is different about their zone is that they extend so much that you have to get the ball inside," Ferenz said. "Our kids were content at times to just throw it around the perimeter, and that’s what Fox wants. They got the big kid in the middle (Hannah Munger) and they figure if you drive, you’re going to run into the big kid. When we were successful was after (halftime), when we started to get the ball into the high post and the low post. The 3s we hit were from going inside and kicking it outside, or ball-faking inside and skip passing."

Down 26-16 at the half, the Missionaries got the second half rolling with a Michelle Krall putback, a Hilary White 3-pointer, and a pair of Rebecca Sexton free throws. But each time the Missionaries looked to make a run, the Bruins responded. Chief factor in the response was 5-foot-10 guard Keisha Gordon, who tallied back-to-back three-point plays on nearly identical left side and right side baseline drives.

Gordon finished the game with a Bruin-high 18 points.

The Missionaries never got closer than five points in the second half, which they did on White’s trey at the 10:50 mark to bring the score to 40-35. The Bruins then went on a 15-6 run over the next 5:30 to put the game out of reach.

"I’m proud of the way the kids defended," Ferenz said. "They kept themselves in the game with their defense. We had it cut to five, and then we just could not get one to fall. And you’re not going to keep Fox’s offense under control forever."

"Rebecca Sexton played great. She was really a force for us. Hilary White also played well. We just had a lot of kids who were off their game tonight. There was nothing wrong with the way we played — we just couldn’t get the shots to fall."

Sexton, who scored all but two of Whitman’s points after the 10-minute mark of the second half, finished with a game-high 21. White finished in double figures with 14.

GEORGE FOX (60) — Munger 3-11 0-0 6, Kuenzi 4-9 1-4 9, Keener 0-1 2-2 2, Gardner 2-4 0-0 6, Gordon 5-8 6-6 18, Rinehart-Young 3-5 4-7 10, Towne 1-2 0-0 2, Silva 0-3 0-0 0, Mohsenian 2-6 1-2 6, Simmons 0-0 0-0 0, Samples 0-0 0-0 0, Myers 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 20-50 15-23 60.

WHITMAN (49) — K. Peterson 1-4 0-0 2, White 5-12 0-0 14, Brice 0-1 0-0 0, Sexton 5-10 11-11 21, Krall 1-8 0-0 2, Gilbert 0-0 0-0 0, Mello 2-4 0-0 6, Madden 1-8 2-2 4, Keyes 0-7 0-0 0. Totals 15-54 13-13 49.

Halftime — George Fox 26, Whitman 16. 3-point goals — GF 5-13 (Kuenzi 0-2, Gardner 2-2, Gordon 2-4, Towne 0-1, Silva 0-1, Mohsenian 1-2, Myers 0-1), Whitman 6-19 (K. Peterson 0-1, White 4-10, Mello 2-3, Madden 0-1, Keyes 0-4). Total fouls — GF 14, Whitman 17. Fouled out — none. Technical fouls — none. Rebounds — GF 37 (Kuenzi 7, Whitman 36 (Krall 7). Turnovers — GF 16, Whitman 19. Assists — GF 10 (Gardner 3, Gordon 3), Whitman 11 (Krall 4).

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