WALLA WALLA - Whitman College continued its high-stepping gallop toward the Northwest Conference women's basketball playoffs with a 71-52 victory over Whitworth Tuesday night in Sherwood Center.
Winning for the 12th time in 14 games since the start of the calendar year, Whitman improved to 11-4 in the NWC and 15-9 overall.
The Missionaries have already locked down the No. 3 seed in next week's playoffs.
Tuesday's loss dropped Whitworth to 6-9 in the NWC (10-14 overall) and extinguished its hopes of getting the fourth and final playoff spot.
After the Pirates scored the game's first basket, Mary Madden finished a three-point play in the lane to lift Whitman into a lead it held for the rest of the night.
The Missionaries slowly but surely pulled away throughout the opening half and led 40-24 at the break.
Whitworth briefly closed to within 12 points early in the second stanza before Whitman waltzed away on a 17-1 run for a 58-30 lead with 10 minutes left to play. The Missionaries stretched the margin to as much as 30 points. The Pirates tallied their final 10 points from the free throw line to narrow the final margin.
Jenele Peterson, Whitman's senior point guard, hit 10-of-15 shots from the floor in scoring a game-high 23 points. She also snared four rebounds and handed out three assists.
Madden added 12 points for the Missionaries, who knocked down six of 11 shots from the 3-point line while shooting 50 percent (28-of-56) from the floor overall.
Nine other players scored for Whitman, which turned to its bench throughout the second half.
Lexi Belcher paced Whitworth with 11 points and seven rebounds. Lauren Picha had 10 points for the Pirates.
Whitman outrebounded the visitors 47-35. Meghan White and Tiffani Traver picked off eight rebounds apiece for the winners. Anna Forge and first-year center Heather Lovelace had two blocked shots apiece.
The Pirates shot just 26.2 percent (16-61 fg) from the floor for the game, although they connected on 7-of-17 tries from the 3-point line.
Peterson, who leads the NWC in assists, put on a shooting clinic in the first half, hitting seven of nine shots from the floor. One was a 3-pointer, giving her 15 points at the break. One of her two first-half misses was a 3-point heave just before the buzzer that was blocked.
Just as efficient in the first half was Madden, who was 4-of-5 from the floor, including a 3-pointer. She also hit her only free throw, making her 33-of-35 (94.3 percent) from the charity stripe on the season.
As a team, Whitman hit 57.1 percent (16-of-28) of its first-half field goal attempts. That included 4-of-5 attempts from the 3-point arc.
On the other side, Whitworth hit just 9-of-33 field goal tries (27.3 percent) in the opening half. The Pirates hit four times from the 3-point line to keep Whitman within reach.
Whitman's victory gave the Missionaries a season sweep of the home-and-away series. Whitman rallied for a 78-70 victory over Whitworth last month in Spokane.
Whitman finishes the regular season at 6 p.m. Friday when it hosts Willamette in Sherwood Center. Whitman beat the Bearcats 98-65 last month in Salem.
Whitman 71, Whitworth 52
WHITWORTH (52) - Belcher 3-9 3-4 11, Picha 4-10 1-2 10, Lahue 3-7 0-2 8, Knutsen 3-6 0-0 7, Johnson 1-5 4-4 6, LaMoreaux 1-7 3-4 5, Guthrie 1-7 1-2 4, Sommer 0-0 1-2 1, Belton-Sharp 0-2 0-0 0, Cacchillo 0-3 0-0 0, Lyons 0-5 0-1 0. Totals 16-61 13-21 52.
WHITMAN (71) - J. Peterson 10-15 2-4 23, Madden 5-7 1-1 12, White 2-10 2-4 6, Keyes 2-3 1-2 6, Traver 2-4 0-0 5, Anderegg 1-5 3-4 5, Forge 2-3 0-0 4, Gilbert 1-1 0-0 3, K. Peterson 1-4 0-0 3, Alindogan 1-2 0-0 2, Lovelace 1-2 0-0 2, Gray 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-56 9-15 71.
Halftime score - Shitman 40, Whitworth 24. 3-point goals - Whitworth 7-17 (Belcher 2-5, Lahue 2-4, Picha 1-2, Knutsen 1-1, Guthrie 1-3, Belton-Sharp 0-1, Lyons 0-1), Whitman 6-11 (Keyes 1-2, Madden 1-1, J. Peterson 1-2, Traver 1-2, K. Peterson 1-2, Gilbert 1-1, Alindogan 0-1). Fouled out - none. Rebounds - Whitworth 35 (Belcher 7), Whitman 47 (White 8; Traver 8). Assists - Whitworth 10 (Johnson 4), Whitman 16 (J. Peterson 3). Total fouls - Whitworth 15, Whitman 19. Technical fouls - none. A - 650.