PORTLAND - Whitman College outscored Lewis & Clark by seven points from the floor, but the Pioneers made 12 more free throws en route to a 69-64 women's basketball victory over the Missionaries in tonight's semifinals of the Northwest Conference post-season tournament.
Playing on its home floor in Portland, Lewis & Clark tallied its final nine points on free throws to hold off a determined Whitman rally in the closing minutes.
Now 24-2 on the season, the second-seeded Pioneers advance to play undefeated and top-seeded George Fox in Saturday's tournament championship game.
The winner of that game, which takes place on the George Fox campus in Newberg, Ore., gets the NWC's automatic berth in the NCAA Division III national championship field.
George Fox advanced to the tournament finale with a 68-55 victory over fourth-seeded Puget Sound in tonight's other semifinal.
Whitman, seeded third in the tournament, ended its season with a 16-10 record.
Jenele Peterson, Whitman's two-time first-team all-conference point guard, finished her career on a high note, scoring a best-ever 34 points while making 14 of 19 shots from the floor.
Kristina Williams paced Lewis & Clark with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
The Pioneers made 20 of 24 free throws while Whitman went to the line just nine times, making eight. The Missionaries took and made just two free throws in the first half.
Apart from an early 2-2 tie, Lewis & Clark led throughout a first half that saw the Missionaries make just nine of 28 field goal attempts and trail 33-21 at intermission.
The Pioneers expanded their lead to 43-28 early in the second half, but junior guard Kelly Peterson strung together six straight points to keep Whitman in the game at 45-34 with 15 minutes left to play.
After Jenele Peterson drilled one of her two 3-pointers with 7:37 on the clock, Williams answered with two free throws to push the Pioneers back in front by 10 points, 55-45.
The margin widened to 60-47 but a jumper by sophomore Sarah Anderegg with five minutes left ignited a final Whitman charge. Junior Mary Madden made two free throws and Jenele Peterson added two hoops, one of them a 3-pointer, to make it a 60-56 game with three minutes still left to play.
While two Williams free throws restored a six-point Pioneer lead, Jenele Peterson's jumper just inside the final minute kept the Missionaries within four. Peterson added three more baskets over that final minute, but the Loggers made enough free throws to finish off the victory.
Jenele Peterson, who scored Whitman's last 13 points, hit her final jumper with 19 seconds left, making it a one-possession game at 67-64.
Whitman sophomore Tiffani Traver then blocked a Pioneer shot at the other end, but the ball rolled out of boards with Lewis & Clark retaining control.
Neva Hauser made the home team's last two free throws with 12 seconds left, sealing the victory.
Lewis & Clark, which canned its last field goal with 5:23 left in the game, shot 41.1 percent from the floor.
Whitman hit 56.7 percent of its field goal attempts (17-30 fg) in the second half and finished the night at 44.8 percent.
The Pioneers crashed the boards for a 41-27 rebounding advantage that included 20 offensive rebounds.
With her 28 points, Jenele Peterson was the only Whitman player in double figures. Kelly Peterson added nine points and six rebounds. Madden and Anderegg chipped in with six points apiece while senior Jenn Keyes had five. Anderegg also blocked two shots and picked off a pair of steals.
Megan Spence with 16 points was one of three Pioneers (in addition to Williams) to hit double digits in scoring.
Jenele Peterson finished her Whitman career with 1,239 career points, which is sixth on the all-time Missionary scoring list. She also finished second all-time at Whitman in career assists.
Lewis & Clark 69, Whitman 64
WHITMAN (64) - Traver 0-2 0-0 0, J. Peterson 14-19 4-4 34, White 1-4 0-0 2, Madden 2-8 2-2 6, K. Peterson 3-6 2-3 9, Buse 1-3 0-0 2, Lovelace 0-2 0-0 0, Anderegg 3-6 0-0 6, Forge 0-1 0-0 0, Keyes 2-7 0-0 5. Totals 26-58 8-9 64.
LEWIS & CLARK (69) - Williams 6-13 7-9 20, Dowling 2-4 0-0 4, Villanueva 2-4 6-6 10, Hauser 4-12 2-2 12, Spence 6-12 4-5 16, Howe 0-0 0-0 0, Anderson 0-0 0-0 0, Dean 1-2 0-0 2, Wang 2-3 1-2 5. Totals 23-56 20-24 69.
3-point goals - Whit 4-15 (Peterson 2-6, K. Peterson 1-2, Keyes 1-4), L&C 3-15 (Williams 1-1 Hauser 2-7). Total fouls - Whit 19, L&C 17. Fouled out - none. Technical fouls-none. Rebounds - Whit 27 (K. Peterson 6), L&C 41 (Williams 10). Turnovers - Whit 16, L&C 19. Assists - Whit 9 (Traver 2, J. Peterson 2, K. Peterson 2), L&C 10 (Villaneuva 3).