Women’s Basketball Jumps Into National Spotlight

Kyle Howe

As most students packed up and headed home for the holidays, the women’s basketball team hit the road for five away games. Instead of having a month-long break like the rest of the school, the women’s team had just ten days off for Christmas and was otherwise on the court. The team practiced constantly throughout the break, providing a spark to drive them into the national spotlight with a series of wins including one against a ranked opponent. Their success did not come without hard work, though.

Sarah Anderegg '14 goes up for a shot. The Whitman women won both their games this weekend.  Photos by Halley McCormick.
Sarah Anderegg ’14 goes up for a shot. The Whitman women won both their games this weekend. Photos by Halley McCormick.

“We spent every day at practice. I think we played nine days in a row, so that was really challenging,” said junior forward Sarah Anderegg.

The hard work and the dedication that the women put in over break clearly paid off, beginning with their 20-point route of Warner Pacific College at the start of break and punctuated by a win against conference rival Lewis & Clark College, which at the time was ranked fifth nationally in the NCAA Division III.

The team faced the nationally ranked Pioneers on the road, where the Whitman Missionaries came away victorious by a score of 88-72.  Anderegg’s 32 points helped propel the team to a victory that pushed the team up to 19th in the national rankings.

“At the time they were ranked fifth in the nation and we were unranked. We looked at that like a really big challenge, went in confident and they were undefeated until that point, so that sparked our successful break,” said senior Mary Madden.

Every player greatly contributed to the victory against Lewis & Clark in a game that really captured the identity of Whitman’s team.

Head women's basketball coach Michelle Ferenz brings the team together during a time out.
Head women’s basketball coach Michelle Ferenz brings the team together during a time out.

“We went into the game knowing it was going to be very challenging. [Lewis & Clark has] a really good team and we were the underdogs, so we took that mentality and just knew that we had to play our absolute best. Every single person on the team stepped up, whether they played 30 minutes or they were cheering from the bench. Everyone really contributed to that win,” said Anderegg.

The break wrapped up with another victory at Pacific University, followed by two tough losses against Whitworth University and George Fox University. The women bounced back from their losses with two more victories over the past weekend against Linfield College and Willamette University.

Sarah Anderegg '14 (#23) and Alyssa Maine '16 make their way down the court at Saturday's game against Willamette.
Sarah Anderegg ’14 (#23) and Alyssa Maine ’16 make their way down the court at Saturday’s game against Willamette.

“Winter break was kind of difficult for us because we had four away games. After the first few games we lost two, but overall it was really successful because we played four really good teams,” said Anderegg.

If one thing can be discerned from the success of the women’s team, it is that the members have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with and have the potential to rise to the top of their conference.

Hailey McDonald '16 looks for a shot.
Hailey McDonald ’16 looks for a shot.

“We are very balanced. We have experience and … some very young impact players as well. In terms of scoring we are very balanced. We have at least six to seven girls who could score double-digit points in a night. I think teams struggle with guarding us because we don’t have one or two players who you can say are going to score all of the team’s points and that makes us very dangerous,” said Madden.

With break behind them, the team has set new goals to accomplish as the regular season presses on.

“We had three tough games and it made us refocus on our priorities. From here on out we plan on coming out strong and will hopefully be able to host a playoff game,” said sophomore Hailey Ann Maeda.

The team currently sits in third place behind Lewis & Clark and George Fox in the Northwest Conference standings.

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