Whitman women wrap up NWC title

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SPOKANE — It had been 10 years since Whitman’s last Northwest Conference title in women’s basketball, a co-championship with the University of Puget Sound in 2003-04.

Forgive the Missionaries for being greedy this time around.

Whitman secured the NWC crown all to itself here Tuesday by handling rival Whitworth 84-69 as the undefeated and No. 2-ranked Missionaries improved to 15-0 in the conference and 24-0 overall.

Critical contributions from all five Whitman starters — Heather Johns, Sarah Anderegg, Meghan White, Tiffani Traver and Hailey Mcdonald — allowed the Missionaries to control the second half and move within one victory of an undefeated regular season. Whitman closes out its season Saturday at Lewis & Clark.

In sweeping its season series against the 25th-ranked Pirates, Whitman also secured home-court advantage throughout the NWC tournament. It will host the conference’s fourth-place finisher in a tournament semifinal on Feb. 27, and assuming a semifinal victory it would also host the tournament championship game two nights later.

“Tonight was really about winning it outright, so we get to host both (tournament) games,” Whitman head coach Michelle Ferenz said. “I think the kids had fun. It was a good crowd, good energy, great play all around. I’m sure we’ll probably see Whitworth again. I’m just glad it will be at home.”

Whitworth (11-4, 16-8) is battling the University of Puget Sound (9-5, 13-10) for second place and the No. 2 tournament seed. Whitworth finishes its season Friday at Lewis & Clark while UPS hosts George Fox and Pacific this weekend.

Whitman made 29-of-53 field goals (54.7 percent), 8-of-14 3-pointers (57.1 percent) and 18-of-19 free throws (94.7 percent) in a rivalry game, on the road, against a nationally ranked foe. It maintained a double-digit lead for most of the second half and never led by fewer than eight points. All five starters scored in double figures.

“I thought the kids had one of their best performances of the season in terms of balance,” d Ferenz said. “When it comes to this time of year, you want to do it with style.”

Senior center Anderegg had 16 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot. White battled through foul trouble to score 16 points and rip seven boards. Traver had 10 points and three assists, hitting 3-of-5 3-pointers. Mcdonald added 10 points and three steals.

Johns, meanwhile, was at her best in the second half and finished her night with 23 points, eight assists, six rebounds and two steals. She was 8-of-15 from the floor and made all five of her free throws.

“I really liked the way our kids shot the ball with confidence,” Ferenz said. “Everyone stepped up and shot the ball well.”

Whitworth made 5-of-9 3s in the first half and forced 11 Whitman turnovers. But the Missionaries led 37-28 at the intermission thanks in part to superior rebounding (a 23-9 advantage) and defense inside the 3-point arc, holding the Pirates to 6-for-21 shooting on 2-point field goals. Whitman also converted all seven of its free throws.

Whitman 84, Whitworth 69

WHITMAN (84) — Anderegg 6-9 4-4 16, White 6-8 4-4 16, Johns 8-15 5-5 23, Trayer 3-6 1-2 10, McDonald 2-7 4-4 10, Alindogan 0-1 0-0 0, Buse 0-0 0-0 0, Ketner 3-4 0-0 7, Maeda 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 29-53 18-19 84.

WHITWORTH (69) — Lyons 1-3 0-2 2, Lahue 5-9 2-2 16, McConnell 3-8 3-4 11, Zappone 4-8 0-0 10, Johnson 6-14 0-1 14, Knutsen 1-4 0-0 2, Kramer 3-6 1-1 7, McLeod 2-3 0-0 5, Belton-Sharp 1-4 0-2 2. Totals 26-59 6-12 69.

Halftime — Whitman 37, Whitworth 28. 3-point goals — Whitman 8-14 (Johns 2-3, Traver 3-5, McDonald 2-4, Alindogan 0-1, Ketner 1-1), Whitworth 11-21 (Lahue 4-7, McConnell 2-2, Zappone 2-5, Johnson 2-3, Knutsen 0-1, Kramer 0-2, McLeod 1-1). Total fouls — Whitworth 18, Whitman 15. Fouled out — none. Technical fouls — none. Rebounds — Whitman 40 (Anderegg 11), Whitworth 21 (Johnson 5). Turnovers — Whitman 18, Whitworth 12. Assists — Whitworth 18 (Knutsen 6), Whitman 15 (Johns 8).

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