TACOMA, Wash. – Whitworth pulled out the game it needed to win, upsetting Puget Sound 61-56 on Saturday night in the Northwest Conference regular season finale. But the Pirates' came up just short of making the NWC women's basketball tournament after Linfield rallied to beat Pacific 60-57 to claim the final playoff spot.
Whitworth closes the 2018-19 season 13-12 overall and 8-8 in the NWC in Joial Griffith's first year as head coach. The Pirates finished tied for fourth place in the league standings with Linfield, but the Wildcats earned the final NWC playoff spot by sweeping Whitworth during the regular season.
Puget Sound is 19-5 overall, 12-4 in the NWC, finishing third in the final standings and missing an opportunity to host a conference tournament game despite sweeping second place Whitman this season.
Camy Aguinaldo had 14 points, eight rebounds, seven steals and three assists to lead Whitworth to a road sweep of the Tacoma-area schools for the first time since 2014. Aimee Smith added 14 points off the bench for the Bucs.
Whitworth trailed 13-9 at the end of the first quarter after making only 3-13 shots from the field (23%). But the Pirates rallied to tie the game 21-21 near the end of the first half on Smith's layup with 59 seconds left. Elizabeth Prewitt made two free throws to give the hosts a 23-21 lead at the break.
Whitworth made its move in the third quarter, sinking 9-15 shots (60%). Jordan Smith's three-pointer gave the Pirates a 28-26 lead and Aguinaldo followed with a three-point play for a 31-26 advantage. But the Loggers answered with an 8-0 run, sparked by Jamie Lange's three-point play, to retake a 34-31 lead. Whitworth refused to let UPS seize the momentum for good, going ahead 42-39 on Aimee Smith's layup just before the buzzer.
The Pirates continued to hold the lead for most of the fourth quarter, going up 55-49 on another Aimee Smith basket with 3:34 to go. Puget Sound made its final run, taking a 56-55 lead on RayAnn Allen's three-point play with 2:04 to go. But the Whitworth defense made sure the Loggers would not score again.
Courtney Gray made back-to-back baskets to give the Bucs a 59-56 lead with 1:07 left. After an exchange of possessions, Prewitt took a three-pointer with ten seconds to go, which was rebounded by Aguinaldo. Aguinaldo hit both free throws to secure the win.
Lange finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds for Puget Sound, while Allen added 14 points.