McMINNVILLE, Ore. – The Whitworth University women's basketball team returned to its winning ways with a 74-54 Northwest Conference win over Linfield College in Ted Wilson Gymnasium on Saturday evening. Whitworth improves to 11-4 on the season with a 5-1 Northwest Conference record. Linfield falls to 5-10 overall, 1-5 in the NWC.
Linfield scored in the opening seconds and jumped out to a 6-2 lead but baskets from sophomore KC McConnell and senior Kayla Johnson swung the lead in favor of the Pirates. The teams played back-and-forth until layups from sophomore Alexis McLeod and junior Katara Belton-Sharp and a three-pointer from sophomore Lexie Zappone pushed Whitworth's lead to seven, 23-16. Linfield fought back and reclaimed the lead on a three-pointer from Katelyn Henson with 7:38 left in the half, but Whitworth used a 17-4 run over the remaining seven minutes to closed out the half and go into halftime with a 42-30 lead.
Linfield opened the second half with two quick baskets to cut Whitworth's lead to eight points, but the Pirates hit back-to-back threes to push the lead back to double digits. Whitworth continued to increase the lead, going up by 21 points on a pair of free throws from senior Jamie Lyons with 3:25 left in the game. The Wildcats pulled within 17 as a layup from Catie Mets made it a 71-54 game with 2:02 left to play, but the Pirates held Linfield without a basket for the remaining two minutes of play to secure the 74-54 victory.
Whitworth had nine team steals and turned the ball over just 10 times. Linfield finished the game with 21 turnovers, which Whitworth turned into 18 points. The Pirates held a 40-34 rebounding advantage and used 16 offensive rebounds to score 18 second chance points.
Kayla Johnson led the Pirates with 22 points, six rebounds, two assists and a team-high two blocks. KC McConnell added 18 points with five rebounds, two steals and two assists. Junior Jessica Kramer joined Johnson as the team's leading rebounder, with three of her six rebounds coming on the offensive glass. Lexie Zappone dished out a team-high four assists and had a team-high three steals.
Kaely Maltman led Linfield with 18 points, going 8-8 from the floor. Maltman dished out a game-high six assists, four rebounds and a steal. Katelyn Henson and Quincey Gibson each had 11 points for the Wildcats. Taylor Solomon pulled down a team-high five rebounds.
Next up, Whitworth travels to Walla Walla to take on fourth-ranked Whitman College at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 21.