TACOMA, Wash. – Visiting Whitworth hung with sixth-ranked Puget Sound through the first 27 minutes, but the Pirates could not prevent the Loggers from winning 78-58 and clinching the Northwest Conference women's basketball title on Saturday evening.
Whitworth (10-13 overall, 6-8 NWC) was still within 50-42 with under three minutes left in the third quarter before Puget Sound (22-1 overall, 14-0 NWC) pulled away.
The Pirates led for most of the first quarter, taking an early 9-4 lead after Madison Moffat converted a three-point play and still led 18-15 after another Moffat basket. But the Loggers grabbed a 21-20 lead at the end of the period.
Puget Sound stretched the lead to 26-20 early in the second on a three-pointer by Samone Jackson. But Whitworth answered with a quick 8-0 run, including three-pointers by Erika Kuehn and Alli Kieckbusch, to take a 28-26 lead. The Loggers closed the second period with an 11-3 run to lead 37-29 at halftime.
After Puget Sound grabbed a 50-39 lead late in the third, Whitworth got back within 50-42 on Courtney Gray's bucket with 2:55 to go in the period. That's as close as the Pirates could get as Puget Sound used a 7-0 run to open its largest lead of the contest to that point.
The Pirates could not gain ground in the final quarter. The Loggers shot 50% (9-18) from the field in the final period to outscore Whitworth 21-14.
Grace Douglas led Whitworth with 14 points, while Callie Harwood had 11 points and seven rebounds. Kuehn came off of the bench for 10 points and Moffat finished with eight points to go with a team-high 12 rebounds. The Pirates struggled to get clean shots against the Puget Sound defense, shooting 31.3% (21-67) from the field and 23.5% (4-17) from three-point range.
Jamie Lange came off of the bench for 21 points and 16 rebounds in only 24 minutes of action to lead the Loggers. Samone Jackson added 14 points and Elizabeth Prewitt contributed a dozen. Alexis Noren had 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Now holding a three-game lead in the standings with two games to play, Puget Sound has clinched its first NWC title since 2008.
Whitworth will close the season at home next weekend against George Fox and Lewis & Clark.