Missionary women host first NWC tourney tilt

Whitman’s Sarah Anderegg, here during the Missionaries’ 72-41 win over Willamette on Jan. 19, and her teammates host Whitworth Thursday in the Northwest Conference semifinals.

Whitman’s Sarah Anderegg, here during the Missionaries’ 72-41 win over Willamette on Jan. 19, and her teammates host Whitworth Thursday in the Northwest Conference semifinals. Photo by Jeff Horner.

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WALLA WALLA — The Whitman women’s basketball team hosts its first Northwest Conference tournament game in program history this Thursday night when the Missionaries play Whitworth in the semifinals at 6 p.m. at Sherwood Center.

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Whitman’s Sarah Anderegg, here during the Missionaries’ 72-41 win over Willamette on Jan. 19, and her teammates host Whitworth Thursday in the Northwest Conference semifinals.

Whitman completed a regular season in which they set a new program record for wins at 20-4, and finished second in conference with a 13-3 mark, winning nine of their last 10 to secure the first-round home game.

The hallmark of the Missionaries all season has been consistent offense, strong defense, and dominance on the boards. Whitman finished the regular season with the best rebounding margin in the conference (plus-13.4) which far outdistanced the closest team, George Fox, at plus-5.9.

Whitman post Meghan White leads the charge, averaging 8.1 rebounds per game — fifth best in the NWC.

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Tickets: $6 adults, $3 children (12 and under), $3 seniors, Whitman students free with ID

Doors open at 5 p.m.

No outside food or beverages allowed

Thursday is “Gold Rush Night,” fans are encouraged to wear gold or yellow

The Missionaries and Whitworth split their two meetings this season. The Pirates were victorious in Spokane, 59-56, in the first meeting, and the Whits won the second game in Walla Walla, 81-62, as Whitman guard Tiffani Traver scored a career-high 21 points (16 in the second half).

Kayla Johnson poured in a game-high 22 for the Bucs.

The Pirates (19-6, 12-4) finished in a tie for third with George Fox, gaining the third seed by virtue of the tiebreaker. After falling to 3-3 in conference in a loss to George Fox, Whitworth finished the season with a flurry, rattling off nine wins in its last 10 games — the Pirates’ only loss coming at Whitman.

The Bucs rely heavily on the 3-ball. Guard Kc McConnell ranks first in the NWC in 3-point percentage (51.8 percent) and her backcourt mate Lauren Picha is fourth at 37 percent.

Whitman’s offense offers the opposite, relying on high percentage shots, resulting from clean half-court sets or points off turnovers. The Missionaries shot a conference-best 43.2 percent from the floor, while Whitworth shot 38.7 percent.

Conversely, the Pirates converted 35.7 percent from beyond the arc, the Whits 27.7 percent.

Whitman’s Sarah Anderegg ranks third in conference scoring at 13.5 points per game and is a major reason why the team leads the conference in field-goal percentage, ranking first at 53.7 percent.

On the defensive end, the Missionaries rank first in scoring defense, allowing only 51.1 points per contest.

Whitworth ranks fifth at 59.0.

The winner of Thursday’s semifinal faces the winner of the other semi between No. 1-seed Lewis & Clark and No. 4 George Fox. The highest remaining seed hosts the conference championship game on Saturday.

This is the third straight season that the Missionaries have made the tournament, but this is their highest seed of the three trips.

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