Pirate offense explodes for 90 points on Senior Night at the Fieldhouse After losing to Whitman College earlier in the week, Whitworth won against the Willamette University Bearcats on Senior Night, putting up 58 points in the second half alone.
On Tuesday night, Whitman beat the Pirates 71- 52, dashing their hopes of making the Northwest Conference Tournament. Sophomore guard Kayla Johnson started the Pirates off with a basket, giving them the lead. That would be the only lead of the game for the Pirates.
Junior guard Lauren Picha ended the first half with a three-pointer, sending the Pirates into halftime down by 16. Early in the second half, senior forward Lexi Belcher sunk two free throws and pulled the Pi- rates to 40-29, but then Whitman went on a scoring streak and the Pirates could not catch up.
The Pirates then played their final game of the sea- son against Willamette, who was last in the conference standings.
“We didn’t play to our best in the first half,” head coach Helen Higgs said after the game. “[We] played really, really well in the second. By the second min- ute of the second half, I knew we had it.”
Before the game, the team honored its two seniors, Taylor Taylor and Lexi Belcher.
“Senior nights are hard,” Higgs said. “You’re close to the team, [and] the emotions of Senior Night are hard. I’m glad we finished with a win.”
The first half of the game was close, with many lead changes between the two teams. The Bearcats shot 59 percent from the field and looked like they might get their first conference win this season, while the Pirates only made 30 percent of their shots. Just 10 minutes into the game, Willamette was leading.
However, both teams found themselves at the free throw line early and often in the close first half. Af- ter sophomore guard Jenna Cacchillo sunk back-to- back free throws, the teams were tied 21-21.
Although Whitworth gained the lead for a while, Willamette caught up once more and took a 33-32 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Taylor had seven rebounds and scored six points to help the team in the first half, and Picha had sev- en points, as well as two steals, in her 15 minutes of playing time during the first half.
“In the first half, we were not as focused as we needed to be,” Belcher said. “[We were] more intense in the second half.”
Whitworth came out in the second half deter- mined to win. After trailing for a few minutes, the Pirates started a scoring streak, eventually building a 53-40 lead. Junior guard Emily Guthrie began the comeback with back-to-back three pointers, and Whitworth continued to extend its lead as the game went on.
With just six minutes left in the game, Johnson sunk a three-pointer, extending the lead 79-52.
The Pirates held on to the lead the rest of the game, finishing 90-67.
The second half saw different results for the Bearcats, who made 37 percent of their shots. Whit- worth increased its shooting percentage in the sec- ond half to 60 percent, a big improvement from the first.
Picha led the team in scoring, with 16 points as well as two rebounds and two assists. Johnson added 15 points, two assists and six rebounds, and Guthrie had 14 points, two assists and two rebounds. Taylor had the most rebounds (eight), assists (four) and steals (four).
“We came and did our job,” freshman forward Katara Belton-Sharp said. “[We] made the seniors proud.”
She said the number of fouls called on both sides was what stuck out to her about the game. However, she said, “[The calls] weren’t a factor. We played to the refs.”
“I think [the team] was very effective offensively [this year],” Higgs said. “If we can up our defense we will be tough to beat.”
Belcher said although she wishes the team could have made the playoffs, the team overall had a good year.
“The fact that we had such balanced scoring, it just showed that we’re a [team unit where] everyone can score and do awesome,” Belcher said.
The women’s team finished the season 11-14 overall and 7-9 in the NWC, putting the team in fifth place in the NWC standings.
Story by Meghan Dellinger Staff Writer
Contact Meghan Dellinger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photographer: Chrissy Roach Photo caption: Senior forward Taylor Taylor searches for a teammate in her last game as a Pirate on Saturday.