by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth Pirates outscored the Pacific (Ore.) Boxers by sixteen in the fourth quarter to pull away with a 69-53 Northwest Conference victory.
The Pirates (5-1, 2-0 NWC) trailed Pacific (2-4, 0-2 NWC) 14-0 early in the game before outscoring the Boxers by 30 the rest of the way. Whitworth's defense buckled down over the final three quarters and held Pacific to 26 percent shooting.
"We had lots of contributors tonight. Every player on our roster was integral to the win." Whitworth head coach Joial Griffith said.
The Boxers took the early lead thanks to a full-court press that forced seven Pirate turnovers in the first quarter. Pacific capitalized by scoring 12 of their 19 points in the quarter off Whitworth mistakes.
The turnovers were a large part of Pacific's early 14-0 run. The Boxers zone press appeared to confuse the Pirates, resulting in turnovers that led to seven straight Boxer points at the end of the run.
"I don't know who that team was in the first quarter, but as the game went on we started to get it together a little bit," Griffith said. "We communicated much better defensively after the first quarter."
Aimee Smith and Madison Moffat helped the Pirates weather the storm in the second quarter. Smith converted a pair of open threes early in the period that cut the Pacific lead to four and gave Whitworth some early momentum. Moffat followed with four points and three assists that sent the Bucs into halftime with just a three-point deficit.
Whitworth continued its second quarter momentum into the third, taking a 38-29 lead on a 12-0 run that directly followed the break. Megan Dorney opened the run with a layup off the pick and roll and another on the fast break. Smith went to work after Dorney's layups, draining two three-pointers to close the run.
Pacific closed the third quarter on a 12-4 run to knot the score at 46 entering the fourth quarter, but the Pirates pulled away one more time to earn the win.
Trailing 49-48 just 30 seconds into the quarter, Whitworth closed the game on a 21-4 run. Once again, Smith and Camy Aguinaldo led the way in the quarter with six and five points respectively. Aguinaldo also facilitated the run with three assists.
Aguinaldo, Moffat, and Aimee Smith all finished with 10 points to join Dorney and Jordan Smith in double figures. Moffat led all players with 15 rebounds, and Aguinaldo handed out 7 assists. Aimee Smith also pulled down 10 rebounds to finish with a double-double.
Whitworth's 5-1 start is its best in four years when the 2014-15 Pirates opened the season 14-0 and 5-0 in the NWC.
The Bucs will have an opportunity to continue their strong start when they travel to the Kim Evanger Raney Classic in Walla Walla, Wash. Whitworth opens the tournament on Friday, Dec. 7 against Thomas More.