Pirate Women Host Key NWC Games This Weekend

Pirate Women Host Key NWC Games This Weekend

The Whitworth women's basketball team hosts Lewis & Clark College and Pacific (Ore.) University in a pair of Northwest Conference games this weekend. The Pirates will face No. 8 Lewis & Clark at 6:00 pm on Friday, February 1st and Pacific (Ore.) at 6:00 pm on Saturday, February 2nd and will be the opening games in doubleheaders with the men's team. Friday's game against Lewis & Clark will be televised on local cable station SWX.

Live statistics, video and audio links will be available for both games.

The Pirates: Whitworth returns to Whitworth Fieldhouse after completing its sweep of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran over the weekend, giving head coach Helen Higgs her first sweep in Tacoma.

On Friday, the Pirates got their first conference road win as they defeated Puget Sound, 55-49. The Pirates struggled early on offense and fell behind 5-0 before Emily Travis made a pair of free throws. The Bucs were able to take the lead in the first half, and opened the second half with a 10-0 run to distance themselves from the Loggers. Kendra Knutsen gave Whitworth its largest lead of the night at 18 points, and Whitworth never trailed once they took the lead in the first half. Emily Guthrie and Kayla Johnson led the team with 10 points each and Jamie Lyons had eight rebounds for the Pirates.

On Saturday Whitworth defeated Pacific Lutheran 67-54. In a repeat of Friday, the Pirates struggled early offensively until Emily Travis sank a pair of free throws to put Whitworth on the scoreboard at the 15:59 mark. Free throws were the difference maker in the game, as Whitworth shot 88.9 percent (24-27) from the charity stripe, including 11 of 12 in the final three minutes of the game to seal the victory. Travis tied a Whitworth women's basketball record by making 14 free throws in the game and led the team by tying her career high of 20 points. Katara Belton-Sharp grabbed five boards to lead the Pirates in rebounding.

Pirate Leaders:  Whitworth is led by senior guard Emily Guthrie and redshirt junior guard Emily Travis, who both average 9.2 points per game for the Bucs; Guthrie also leads the team in rebounding, pulling down 4.8 boards per contest. Junior Kayla Johnson is second on the team in scoring with 9.1 points per game, while junior forward Kendra Lahue is second in the team rebounding, averaging 4.6 rebounds per game.

Senior guard Lauren Picha leads the team with 2.7 assists per game, while Travis averages 2.4 assists per game. Guthrie leads the team with 1.5 steals per game, while freshman KC McConnell is second with 1.4 steals per game. Guthrie and Johnson average 0.4 blocked shots per game.

NWC Standings: With three and a half weeks of conference game remaining, the top four teams have begun to distance themselves from the pack. As all four still have to play each other for the second time in the conference, things could get interesting before the conference tournament.

At 7-3, Whitworth has taken sole possession of fourth in the NWC. Lewis & Clark defeated George Fox over the weekend to move to 9-1 and claim first in the conference, while Pacific (Ore.) holds fifth place at 5-5. Full NWC standings can be found here.

The Pioneers: Lewis & Clark holds an 18-1 record overall this season, 9-1 in the Northwest Conference.  Over the weekend, the Pioneers defeated George Fox, 64-54, and Linfield, 67-54.

Four Pioneers average double figures, led by Kristina Williams' 18.6 points per game. Tayler Wang averages 13.2 points per game, while Katie Anderson added 10.3 points per contest and Sara Villanueva chips in 10 points per game. Williams leads the team in rebounding, pulling down 9.2 boards per contest, while Wang is second, averaging 7.6 rebounds per game. Villanueva leads the team with 3.0 assists per game, while Anderson averages 2.1 steals per contest.

Lewis & Clark averages 74.2 points per game and has a rebounding margin of 5.1 this season. The Pioneers lead the conference in points per game (74.2) and rebounds per game (45.3), while they are second in the league in steals per game (10.6).

Lewis & Clark defeated the Pirates earlier in January, 76-65 in Portland. Friday's game is the 49th meeting between the two teams, and Whitworth leads the all-time series 36-18.

The Boxers: Pacific (Ore.) enters this week with a record of 12-6 overall, 5-5 in the Northwest Conference. The Boxers defeated Willamette, 67-55, and fell to George Fox, 61-57, over the weekend.

Paige Jensen leads the Boxers with 11.7 points per game and 10.0 rebounds per contest. Alex Pfefferle is second on the team with 10.5 points per game, while Heather Hitch is third with 10.0 points per contest. Hitch is second on the team in rebounding, pulling down 5.5 rebounds per game. Erica Colter leads the Boxers with 2.7 assists per game, while Jensen leads the team with 4.2 steals per game.

The Boxers average 62.2 points per game and have a rebounding margin of 3.6 this season. Pacific leads the conference with 11.9 steals per game and are third in the league in three-point field goal percentage (.332).

Earlier in January, the Boxers defeated Whitworth, 65-60 in Forest Grove. Saturday's game is the 60th meeting between the two programs, and Whitworth leads the all-time series 37-16.

NWC Leaders: All three teams feature players that are among the top five in several statistical categories in the Northwest Conference.

Whitworth's KC McConnell leads the conference with her .500 three-point field goal percentage, while Lauren Picha (.381) comes in fourth. Picha (2.4) is second in the assist to turnover ratio category, while McConnell (1.9) comes in third.

Lewis & Clarks's Kristina Williams leads the conference with her 18.6 points per game and is second in the league with 9.2 rebounds per contest. She is also tied with teammate Katie Anderson for fourth with her 3.0 assists per game. Tayler Wang's 13.2 points per game put her in the top five in the conference, while Katie Anderson's 2.1 steals per contest rank her in the top five.

Pacific's Paige Jensen leads the league in two categories, pulling down 10.0 rebounds per game and averaging 4.2 steals per game.

Dishing It Out: Whitworth is second in the conference with its 14.5 assists per game average. The Pirates ranked 10th among NCAA DIII teams for their 1.08  assist to turnover ratio. In a four game stretch, the Pirates had 66 assists on 107 made baskets. Against Warner Pacific, the Bucs had 21 assists on 31 made field goals, and at Lewis-Clark State College, Whitworth had 21 assists on 26 made shots. At Pacific, Whitworth dished out 16 assists on 22 field goals. During that span, three players tied or set career-highs in assists. Junior Jamie Lyons' four assists at Pacific tied a career high, while senior Lauren Picha (8) and redshirt junior Emily Travis (10) set new career highs against Warner Pacific and Lewis-Clark State College, respectively.

Protecting the Ball: In nineteen games this season, the Pirates have only had more turnovers than their opponents six times. The Bucs are tied for eighth among NCAA DIII teams with their 13.8 turnovers per game. Twice this season, Whitworth has had fewer than 10 turnovers in a game; their opponents have only had fewer than 10 turnovers in one game against the Pirates.

Whitworth for Three: In 19 games this season, the Pirates have made 156 three-point field goals, while their opponents have made 48. The Pirates are ranked sixth in Division III for their three-pointers per game. The Bucs average 8.2 three-pointers per game, while their opponents average 2.5. The Pirates have hit 10 or more threes in seven of their 19 games this season. Seven Pirates have made 10 or more threes this season.

Senior Emily Guthrie leads the team with 39 three-pointers, while senior Lauren Picha and freshman KC McConnell are second with 24 three-pointers apiece. Redshirt junior Emily Travis and junior Jamie Lyons have hit 13 threes each on the season, while junior Kendra Lahue has 12 treys this season. Sophomore Katara Belton-Sharp has 10 threes this season.

Triple Digits: In the win over Colorado College on November 30, Whitworth broke into triple digits for the second time this season and the third time in its history. In the 102-40 win, freshman Faith Emerson sank a pair of free throws with 1:25 remaining in the game to get the Bucs past the 100-point barrier. In the November 24th win over Caltech, the Pirates scored 105 points, which set a new record for most points scored in a game. This season is the first time that Whitworth has scored over 100 points in multiple games.

Setting Records: In Whitworth's win over Caltech in November, the Pirates set three new school records.  In the 105-26 victory, the Bucs bettered the previous record for most points scored in a game  (previously 101 vs. Caltech 2003-04) and the largest margin of victory, which was also set in the Caltech game from 2003-04. The Pirates also set a record for rebounds per game, as they pulled down 57 boards.

Redshirt junior Emily Travis tied a Whitworth women's basketball record in the 67-54 win at Pacific Lutheran by making 14 free throws in the game. She is now tied with Tiffany Speer, who set the record during the 2003-04 season by sinking 14 free throws against Linfield.

Three SWX Broadcasts: Local cable station SWX will carry three Whitworth women's games live this season. The Dec. 8 contest against Puget Sound featured play-by-play from Sam Adams and color commentary from Greg Hannan. In the other two broadcasts (Jan. 18 vs. Willamette and Feb. 1 vs. Lewis & Clark), John Fritz will provide play by play, while former Gonzaga star and NBA player Dan Dickau provides color commentary. SWX stands for Sports & Weather Right Now and is owned by local NBC affiliate KHQ channel 6. SWX can be seen both over-the-air and through some cable services in the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene, Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, and Yakima viewership areas. In the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area, SWX is found on digital channel 6.2, on Comcast channel 115 in Spokane and Time Warner channel 306 in North Idaho.

The Coach: Now in her 19th season at Whitworth University, Helen Higgs is the winningest and longest serving women's basketball coach in school history. Not only does she have a record of 263-192 heading into the 2012-13 season, the most wins in school history, her winning percentage of .578 is also the best all-time among Pirate women's basketball coaches. Since becoming members of the NCAA in 1999, Higgs put together the best stretch of records in school history. Whitworth went 124-53 (.700) in the seven seasons from 1999-2005.