The Whitworth women’s basketball team split the last weekend of regular season Northwest Conference play. After losing 59-82 Friday night at Puget Sound, the Pirates bounced back to upend Pacific Lutheran, 83-63. The team was unable to get a victory in their first matchup of the weekend, falling to the Puget Sound Loggers. An early deficit proved difficult to overcome as the Loggers went on an 18-0 run midway through the first quarter.
Senior Faith Emerson did her best to try and keep Whitworth in the game, posting a team-high 22 points. But Whitworth offensively combined to shoot 35 percent in the game. The Pirates’ biggest struggle, however, came on the other end of the floor.
“We did not get it done on defense,” Emerson said. “We know better. It was really the help-side, we failed to get our rotations correct which got them a lot of easy looks. It went downhill from our perspective because of our help defense.”
Puget Sound shot with high efficiency in the game, shooting 49.2 percent from the field. Those good shot opportunities allowed the Loggers to control the ball throughout the game and maintain a comfortable lead as the Pirates trailed by 24 at the half. That deficit remained steady throughout most of the game as Puget Sound went on to win 82-59.
When asked about improvements needed for next game Emerson focused on pace of play.
“We need to, as a team, dictate and control the tempo of the game. When we are scoring we are doing that. It all comes back to our failings on defense,” she said.
A big key to the game plan heading into Pacific Lutheran was to “focus in on little things like relaxing, playing together, and having a good team effort,” coach Helen Higgs said.
The Pirates delivered a dominating defensive performance in their 20-point victory.
Whitworth was all over the court defensively pressuring the Lutes into 23 turnovers on the game.
Most importantly, the Pirates were able to correct the holes in the help-side defense from Friday nights game.
“On defense it was our help-side defense. That was where we struggled last night and that was our focus for us tonight. I think that’s where we had a lot of success,” senior KC McConnell said.
On the other end, the offense was firing on all cylinders as Whitworth shot 45.3 percent in the game. McConnell, who finished with 17 points, felt that the defensive intensity fueled the offensive flow.
McConnell explained the importance of transitions in the game.
“When we could get out and run we caught their defense off-guard because they did not have a chance to get set,” she said.
The first halves in each game played a major role in determining the outcome. A 15-point halftime lead gave the Pirates some breathing room heading into the second half. As a result the Pirates were able to finish the regular season with a victory, moving the Pirates’ overall record to 15-10.
After a win and a loss during the weekend, the Pirates remain in fourth in the Northwest Conference. This week Whitworth prepares for a trip to George Fox on Thursday for a 7 p.m. conference semifinal game.