Women’s Basketball Stumbles in NWC Title Game

Cole Anderson

In the final Northwest Conference contest of the season, the Whitman vs. Whitworth rivalry saw another instant classic Saturday night. This time it was for the conference title, and the Pirates finally found a way to best the previously undefeated Whitman women’s basketball team, 68-65.

It was really a story of two halves, both close but markedly different. In the first half, defense was strong on both sides, and the 26-23 scoreline had this looking like a defensive battle the whole way through. The Missionaries held a lead through the whole half and into halftime, jumping out to an early lead and riding that momentum through. However the Pirates kept it close despite a strong Whitman defense that forced 10 turnovers in the half.

The second half brought a change of pace offensively and almost twice as many second-half points from Whitworth compared to the first 20 minutes. The Missionaries trailed for the majority of the second half, something that hadn’t been the case all season, but they showed their resilience, never letting the Pirates amass any significant lead.

Point guard Heather Johns recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Forward Sarah Anderegg led both teams scoring with 23 points, 13 of which came from free throws. A late-game push, backed by a roaring Whitman crowd, looked as though it could have been enough if the Missionaries had a little more time. The final few minutes of the game were very back and forth but the Pirates were consistent at the free throw line and didn’t allow Whitman to regain their first half lead.

This loss denies Whitman an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, but given their record, the Missionaries will likely earn an at-large bid into the tournament.