Women’s Basketball Starts NCAA Tournament With Two Wins

Cole Anderson

Whitman 106, Chapman 51

Following a close loss to the Whitworth Pirates in the Northwest Conference Championship, there were doubts whether the previously undefeated, previously no. 1 nationally ranked Missionaries women’s basketball team was the real deal. If their Friday night performance in the first round of the NCAA Division III Playoffs against Chapman is any indication of their ability, any of those doubts should’ve been promptly silenced.

With a 106-51 victory, the Missionaries scored a season high and recorded their best margin of victory for the 2013-2014 season, and this was in a playoff game.

Senior Sarah Anderegg, finishing the night with a game high of 25 points, was one rebound short of a double-double at halftime. At the end of 20 minutes, Anderegg had 18 points and 9 rebounds. By the final whistle, she had amassed 25 points and 10 rebounds, both game-leading statistics. Perhaps most impressive was Anderegg’s accuracy; she shot 83 percent from the field.

Five players for the Missionaries had double-digit points, with junior Heather Johns tallying 13, senior Meghan White with 12, and junior Katie Gray and sophomore Hailey Ann Maeda both tacking on 10 of their own. Every single player in uniform for Whitman had points on a night that showcased their dominance through a true, well-rounded team effort.

On the back of a 63 percent shooting performance from the field for the Missionaries, there was really no looking back after jumping to a 10-2 lead right out of the gate. With a 51-20 halftime score, the crowd in Sherwood Center only got louder for the second half, since a 100-point game was in sight. The 100th point came on a free throw from first-year Alysse Ketner with about 2:30 left to play, and naturally, the crowd was significantly louder than after most made free throws, celebrating the first 100-point game in recent memory for the women’s team.

Whitman 73, Whitworth 67

In yet another instant classic in the Battle of the Whits, the Missionary faithful saw another nail-biter, this time in the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs. This rematch of the NWC Championship from a week prior had all the excitement of last week, only with even higher stakes and a different result, this time in favor of the Whitman Missionaries, 73-67.

Riding the momentum of the previous night’s landslide victory over Chapman, Whitman jumped to an early 10-2 lead and got the lead up to 12 at 26-14 with four minutes remaining. The steady second run was spurred by a preorganized eruption of noise by the Whitman student section following the 10th point for the Missionaries. However, the Whitworth Pirates would not back down that easily and would make a late first half run, drawing within six points around the two-minute mark. A pair of threes by senior Tiffani Traver would extend the Whitman lead once again to 38-25 going into halftime.

Rather dormant through the first half, Johns heated up immediately in the second, with five points in the first minute of the half. A 21-7 run by the Pirates, however, shrank the Whitman lead to just four with 10 minutes left in the game. From this point on, tough defense, dominant rebounding and improved accuracy from the line were factors that aided in the Missionaries’ efforts to fend off any comeback attempts the Pirates could throw at them.

For Maeda, the Whitman defensive half, especially under the hoop, was a no-fly zone. Maeda led the game with 11 rebounds, snatching key misses down the stretch to ensure a Missionary possession.

Traver topped the scoring for the Missionaries with 17 points, and Johns and Anderegg shared the second spot with 15 points a piece. With Anderegg in foul trouble, Maeda’s performance off the bench was key in this win, and with seven points of her own, she also played well on offense.

With the win, the Missionaries advance to 28-1 and Head Coach Michelle Ferenz earned her 20oth win as Whitman head coach. Whitman will host their Sweet 16 game against Christopher Newport on Friday, March 14 at 7 p.m.