SPOKANE — With a late lead slipping away for a fourth straight game, the Whitman College women’s basketball team suffered through another night of heartache in losing 75-72 to Whitworth University here Tuesday night.
Whitman, which led by eight points midway through the second half, saw its record fall to 6-10 overall and 1-6 in the Northwest Conference.
Whitworth upped its record to 7-9 on the season and 3-4 in the NWC.
Sophomore Jennifer Keyes, one of Whitman’s walking wounded, hit a trio of 3-pointers as part of a 13-6 spurt that gave the Missionaries their largest lead of the night at 59-51 with 10 minutes left in the second half.
Whitworth rallied back with a 13-4 run to lead 64-63 with 5:27 remaining. Kelly Peterson, a first-year guard, made two Whitman free throws, but the Pirates pierced the net with back-to-back 3-pointers to grab a 70-65 cushion with three minutes left.
After Whitman senior Michelle Krall answered with a 3-pointer, Whitworth’s Cassie Pilkinton made one of two free throws to push the home team’s lead back to three points.
The Missionaries regained the lead at 72-71 with jumpers on their next two possessions. Senior Rebecca Sexton made the first and Peterson got the second with just over a minute left on the clock.
Leah Pomante scored what proved to be the winning bucket on Whitworth’s next possession, scoring off a layin with the shot clock winding down.
Whitman misfired on a 3-point attempt with 15 seconds remaining, and Katie Delaney added two Whitworth free throws in the closing seconds to complete the scoring.
Senior Hilary White just missed a double-double for Whitman, combining team-high totals in both points (14) and rebounds (nine). Sexton finished with 12 points and six rebounds, Peterson was good for 10 points and six assists, and Keyes gave the Missionaries a fourth player in double-digit scoring with 11.
Whitman’s balanced attack also included nine points from Krall, eight points from senior Dawna Mello, and six points, four assists and four rebounds from junior Jessica Brice.
Pilkinton led the Pirates with 21 points, six assists and five rebounds. Pomante was close behind with 13 points, five rebounds and four assists. Natalie Orrell added 11 points for Whitworth.
For the game, Whitman finished with 27 field goals, one more than the Pirates, but the Missionaries lost points at both the 3-point stripe and free throw line. Whitworth made 10 of 21 shots from the 3-point arc and 13 of 21 charity tosses. Whitman was eight of 22 from long range and 10 of 11 from the line.
A back-and-forth first half featured eight tie scores. Whitworth held an early 7-3 lead but the Missionaries reeled off nine unanswered points to lead 29-22 with seven minutes left in the half. Sexton had four points in the run and Mello capped it with a 3-pointer.
After the Pirates rallied to knot the score at 29 all, Mello hit another 3-pointer to spark another Whitman surge. Mello’s jumper with 1:51 remaining made it 38-22 in favor of the visitors.
Whitworth tallied the last five points of the half to trail 38-37 at the break.
Whitman, which has played five of its first seven NWC games on the road, returns home on Saturday to host Linfield. That game starts at 6 p.m. in Sherwood Center.
WHITMAN (72) — Peterson 2-5 6-7 10, Krall 3-7 2-2 9, Sexton 5-8 2-2 12, Mello 3-11 0-0 8, White 6-14 0-0 14, Gilbert 0-0 0-0 0, Madden 1-2 0-0 2, Brice 3-5 0-0 6, Keyes 4-6 0-0 11. Totals 27-58 10-11 72.
WHITWORTH (75) — Orrell 5-7 1-2 11, Pilkinton 7-15 4-6 21, Horiatis2-9 2-2 6, Pomante 5-11 1-5 13, Bluff 1-3 0-0 3, Picha 0-1 0-0 0, Travis 1-2 0-0 2, Delaney 1-3 4-4 6, Burke 2-2 0-0 6, Fanene 2-8 1-2 6. Totals 26-61 13-21 75.
3-point goals — Whitman 8-22 (Peterson 0-1, Krall 1-4, Mello 2-5, White 2-6, Brice 0-2, Keyes 3-4), Whitworth 10-21 (Orrell 01, Pilkinton3-7, Pomante 2-4, Bluff 1-2, Delaney 1-3, Burke 2-2, Fanene 1-2). Total fouls— Whitman 18, Whitworth 14. Fouled out— Whitman (Krall), Whitworth (None). Technical fouls—None. Rebounds— Whitman 35 (White 9), Whitworth 39 (Delaney 6). Turnovers— Whitman14, Whitworth 13. Assists— Whitman 21 (Peterson 6), Whitworth 14 (Pilkinton 6).