Women's basketball ends tournament run with loss to UPS

The women’s basketball team suffered a defeat from the Puget Sound Loggers, 71-64, Thursday night. Their loss in the semifinal round ended the Pirate’s run in the Northwest Conference Tournament. The Loggers took control of the first half by taking an eight-point lead only five minutes into the game. The Pirates picked up their offense when freshman Callie Harwood scored a 3-pointer and helped bring the score within four..

“The excitement of the loud crowd and the vibrant atmosphere got [the Loggers] pumped up and it got us rushing things a bit,” head coach Helen Higgs said.

The Loggers were able to widen their lead by shooting 83.3% from the strike. By 7:38, the Loggers held a nine-point lead at 22-13. Whitworth once again attempted to even the score with the help of senior forward Katara Belton-Sharp who led the Pirates’ offense for the first half.

The Puget Sound lead varied throughout the first half, but was still in UPS favor, 34-29, at halftime.

The UPS lead diminished in the second half when the Pirates began to drain more shots. However, it did not happen right away. The half began with the Loggers scoring six points while the Pirates could only earn two.

At 14:11 the Loggers held their biggest lead at 48-33. Puget Sound held a strong lead until 9:03, when Harwood made a layup that started Whitworth’s comeback.

After numerous timeouts, the Pirates were able to slowly close the gap. In the two and a half minutes between 4:46 and 2:07, Whitworth was able to score 11 points, while the Loggers were only able to score three.

“We talked about extending the pressure, and then we ran a few sets, and we tried to get different looks at shots,” Higgs said.

With the help of junior guard KC McConnell, the Pirates were only behind by one point with a score of 65-64. Belton-Sharp also assisted in the comeback by scoring seven points in the second half.

The last two minutes of the game helped the Loggers acquire their victory. By hitting six free throws, UPS iced the contest with a score of 71-64.

George Fox defeated Whitman 78-64, so the Loggers and the Bruins will compete in the tournament final on Saturday night.

 

Peter Houston-Hencken

Staff Writer

 

Women's basketball drops to No. 3

Last weekend ended with the women’s basketball team achieving a crushing victory over the Pacific Lutheran University Lutes, 75-52 and suffering a defeat from the Puget Sound University Loggers, 82-78. The Friday night game against PLU started off with the Pirates gaining six points in the first two minutes. The Lutes were able to pick up two free throws but only at the expense of the Pirates scoring another six points.  By the first timeout at 14:03, the score was 12-2. Whitworth’s lead would not drop below 10 points for the rest of the game.

The Lutes had trouble handling the ball throughout the entire first half. They were unable to shoot or pass effectively, and ended up committing 19 turnovers by the end of the game.

Whitworth’s offense in the first half was led by junior guard KC McConnell with 14 points.

“Our offensive strategy was to move the ball around and to get as many hands on the ball as possible. When we got our defense moving, it seemed to work for our offense,” senior forward Lexie Zappone said.

The first half ended with the score at 38-12, but the Lutes buckled down on their accuracy and scored 40 points in the second half. Senior forward Jessica Kramer helped the Pirate offense by shooting back-to-back baskets from the field before retiring from the game after her fourth personal foul.

“Our defense is what definitely got us going. We tried to make them take shots that they’re not comfortable with,” coach Helen Higgs said.

The Pirates were able to score 37 points in the second half and ended the game with a score of 75-52.

The Saturday night game against the Loggers began on a high note for the Pirates.  McConnell and senior guard Kendra Knutsen were able give the Pirates a four-point lead less than five minutes in. By the first timeout at 10:53, Whitworth held the lead at 15-11.

However, once the Loggers scored seven points and took the lead at 7:39, it was a fight for the lead for the rest of the half. The first half ended with the Loggers in the lead, 36-30.

“The combination of their balance and actually hitting their shots was hard for us to defend,” junior reserve Faith Emerson said.

The Pirates struggled to keep up with Puget Sound in the second half, trailing by as many as 14 points at 8:17. Knutsen was able to bring the heat on offense and score 19 points in the second half. A narrow victory seemed within the Pirates’ grasp after senior forward Katara Belton-Sharp drained a 3-pointer, narrowing the gap to only five points with 21 seconds left on the clock.

“We wanted to use a quick trap to see if they’d turn it over. If they got through that then we’d just foul them so they’d have to come down and shoot free-throws and we would gain possession and score,” Kramer said.

The Pirates were unable to win or tie the game after giving the Loggers three points in free throws.

Whitworth lost their No. 2 seed in the NWC and finished the weekend with a record of 12-4 in the conference. The Pirates will face the Loggers again on Feb. 26 for the NWC Tournament Semifinals.

 

Peter Houston-Hencken

Staff Writer

Basketball splits last regular season home games

NOTE: The version of this story that appeared in Issue 9 of The Whitworthian incorrectly quoted Head Coach Helen Higgs as saying, "We were playing hard, but we were running around without any direction." The quote should have read, "We were playing hard, but we were running around without much direction." The article in this online edition reflects this change.  

The women’s basketball team battled through some close games last weekend. The Friday night match entered an intense overtime and ended with the George Fox University Bruins’ narrow win, 53-52. The next day, the Pirates achieved victory against the Pacific University Boxers, 66-58, and ended the weekend with a record of 11-3-0 in conference play.

The Friday night game demonstrated how evenly matched the Bruins and Pirates were with each half ending with one team ahead by only one point.

The first half began with both teams scrambling for a solid lead. Whitworth managed to pull ahead with the help of junior forward KC McConnell and held a small lead for most of the first half. However, George Fox was able to make a comeback and end the half with 23 points and a one-point lead.

Head coach Helen Higgs trained the Pirates to avoid a repeat of the last George Fox game, which resulted in a dramatic 70-39 defeat.

“We attacked their zone a little bit smarter this game, so we got a little bit better shot selection,” Higgs said.

Whitworth’s defense had a rocky start in the second half, allowing George Fox to hold their lead with a score of 31-24. But the Pirates soon took charge with help from senior forward Katara Belton-Sharp, scoring six baskets from the field as well as a 3-pointer.

“We definitely emphasized defense in practice. This week especially, if you missed the box-out, you had a set of lines, or you were pulled from the drill,” Belton-Sharp said.

The Pirates’ offense improved in the second half and put up an additional 29 points for the Bucs. However, the Bruins success on offense continued as they scored 28 points during the half and tied the game at 51-51.

The match on Friday night progressed into overtime due to a last-second, crowd-electrifying 3-pointer from Belton-Sharp to tie the score. George Fox scored a field goal 40 seconds into overtime. Whitworth was able to answer with a free throw, putting them within one. With only a minute left, the Pirates attempted to take the lead, but were unable to convert on their final play and score a last-second 3-pointer.

The game ended with George Fox winning, 53-52. After this weekend, George Fox’s women’s basketball team has a record of 13-0.

The game on Saturday night against Pacific did not start off in Whitworth’s favor. In the first two minutes, the Boxers started off strong and scored six points. While the ball seemed to stay on Whitworth’s side of the court, Pacific’s offense scored quickly on each of its possessions.

Whitworth was able to score 22 points in the half, but its defense was lacking. Despite McConnell’s 3-8 shooting, the Pirates were behind after allowing Pacific to score 29 points in the first half.

“We got angry that we were down at half. We played passive in the first half, so we just buckled down on defense,” McConnell said.

The Pirates turned the tables on the Boxers for the second half by tying the score five minutes in. After senior guard Lexie Zappone hit a 3-pointer, putting Whitworth ahead, the Pirates held onto their lead for the rest of the game.

“Our focus was the first thing that changed [in the second half], and then our energy together.  We came together as a team, and we picked up our defense, which led to our offense,” Zappone said.

Zappone and McConnell carried the team in the second half scoring 22 and 17 points, respectively, en route to a 66-58 victory.

“We talked about being more focused, mentally. We were playing hard, but we were running around without much direction. You have to think about what you’re doing,” Higgs said.

Pacific University left Whitworth with a record of 5-8-0.  Next weekend the Pirates will face the Pacific Lutheran Knights in Parkland, Washington, and the Puget Sound Loggers in Tacoma.

 

Peter Houston-Hencken

Staff Writer

Basketball puts on a show at homecourt

The Whitworth men’s and women’s basketball teams took the court Saturday at the Whitworth Fieldhouse for the opening night doubleheader. Led by head coach Helen Higgs, the Whitworth women kicked off the night against nonconference opponent Eastern Oregon University. The Pirates started off slow defensively against the high-powered Eastern Oregon offense. Eastern Oregon scored 31 points in the first half shooting 54.5 percent from the field.

“The first half we were trying to figure out how to attack their defense in the most effective way. At halftime we talked about what adjustments we needed to make to our shooting percentage and on defense we needed to work on taking the ball away,” Higgs said.

Standout junior guard KC McConnell carried the Pirate offense in the second half, helping the Pirates construct their late comeback. McConnell led the team in scoring with 22 points.

“After ending the first half on a high note we really brought the energy to the game in the second half,”  McConnell said.

In the second half, the Whitworth offense overcame a 10-point deficit to eventually take a 13-point lead with 4:20 left in the game. The Pirate defense was able to hold on to the lead for a Whitworth win, 67-55.

In the second game of Whitworth’s basketball home opener, the men’s team dominated D’Youville University in a high-scoring 103-49 win. In the first half of play, Whitworth was strong on both sides of the ball scoring 54 points and holding D’Youville to 13 points. Going into half, sophomore forward Christian Jurlina put on a shooting clinic, scoring 20 points with three three-pointers.

Kari Johnson-6 copy

Whitworth continued to prove dominance over its New York opponents in the second half. Newcomer and junior guard Matt Staudacher had his first start at home for the Pirates. Staudacher, a transfer student from Canada’s NCAA DII Simon Fraser University scored eight points and dished out four assists.

“It has been a wonderful experience so far with this program,” Staudacher said. “Ever since I walked on campus I have had nonstop support from the fans, coaching staff and most importantly, my teammates.”

At the end of regulation play, Whitworth put D’Youville away with a final score of 103-49.

“I’m excited about the effort so far from this team this season. I felt like we moved the basketball around really well tonight,” Head Coach Matt Logie said. “We have to continue to grow defensively. We have to work on our principles and understanding of the defense we run.”

The men’s and women’s teams both play Thursday, Nov. 20, at home against Rutgers-Newark.

 

Joshua Omdal

Staff Writer

Going Mad for Basketball

Never is the Whitworth Fieldhouse so packed with fans as it is during a basketball game. But last Saturday’s event was not just a basketball game. Students packed the stands in Pirate garb and with excited expectations to cheer on their 2014-2015 men’s and women’s basketball teams during Midnight Madness. In anticipation of the upcoming season, Associated Students of Whitworth University and the basketball teams partnered to put on the annual event in celebration of basketball, Pirate pride and a new season of competition.

“Midnight Madness is a way to get the campus excited about basketball season. It’s a long-held tradition on a lot of campuses across the country,” men’s basketball Head Coach Matt Logie said. “Tonight is a celebration—an opportunity to introduce our players to the students, and to let them know who’s representing them as the season kicks off. ”

The teams started the night with warm-ups before selected crowd members competed in a dodgeball game. The game was only one of many competitions involving fans. ASWU went to great lengths to include the crowd in the festivities. Raffle winners had chances to compete in a dance-off, a half-court shot for a chance to win one semester’s tuition and blindfolded musical chairs. Competition winners received new bicycles, iPads, and gift cards.

“People come for the free T-shirts and giveaways. Mostly it’s the tradition of the basketball program, though, that allows [Midnight Madness] to be what it is and [draws] the crowds in,” junior point guard George Valle said.

The men’s team entertained the crowd with a dunk contest between sophomore Forrest Baker, sophomore Riley Moreen, and senior Adam Wilks. The judges—including President Beck Taylor and several members of the student body—named Baker the winner.

“I think my favorite event was the dunking competition,” sophomore spectator Katrina Ulnick said. “I came because I like the energy of the event. I don’t usually go to sporting events but I think it’s really fun coming to Midnight Madness and meeting the players.”

The teams also engaged in a battle of the sexes during a three-point contest between Baker and junior Briann Maley. Baker won again. The cheer squad then took the crowd’s attention with a halftime performance created especially for Midnight Madness. To wrap up the night and prepare the audience to support the teams this season, the emcees taught the crowd cheers.

“There’s a lot of excitement this year because [the women’s basketball team] is ranked nationally for the first time in pre-season,” sophomore point guard Jessica Thoens said. “We’re 24th, so this year we want to get people to come out to our games to support us, and to give them a reason to come out—to see us actually play and compete.”

Both teams’ captains asked the student body to come to the Fieldhouse on Saturday, Nov. 15, to support them in their season openers. The women will play Eastern Oregon University at 5 p.m. and the men will follow with a game against D’Youville College at 7 p.m.

 

Leah Dassler

Staff Writer