PORTLAND, Ore. – Senior Emily Travis scored 20 points, and the Pirates got a career-high 19 points from sophomore Katara Belton-Sharp as the Whitworth women's basketball team earned a 76-61 win over No. 8 Lewis & Clark College for the Northwest Conference Tournament championship in Pamplin Center on Saturday evening. With the win, Whitworth (21-6, 12-4 NWC) gets the Northwest Conference automatic qualifying bid into the NCAA tournament, with matchups being announced on Monday at 11:30 am PST.
Whitworth won its first Northwest Conference Tournament since 1995, which was head coach Helen Higgs' first year at the helm.
Lewis & Clark (24-3, 14-2 NWC) got on the scoreboard first with a three-point play from Kristina Williams, but junior Kayla Johnson used an offensive rebound to get a putback and get Whitworth its first two points of the game. Lewis & Clark took an 8-7 lead on a Casey Zinn layup, but it would be the Pioneers' last lead of the game. Kayla Johnson nailed a three-pointer on Whitworth's next possession to give the Bucs a 10-8 lead. The teams kept it close until back-to-back baskets from Travis and senior Lauren Picha put the Pirates up by seven with nine minutes left in the first half. Lewis & Clark pulled within one point, 29-28, with 4:53 left in the half, but the Pirates went on a 6-1 run to close out the half. The Pirates went into halftime with a 35-29 lead.
Whitworth got its first double-digit lead of the game, going up by 11 points on a three-pointer from Emily Travis, at the 17:08 mark. Although the Pioneers pulled back within five at the 8:24 mark, Katara Belton-Sharp got back-to-back buckets in the paint to push the Pirates ahead by 15 points. She gave Whitworth its biggest lead of the night, 17 points, on a jumper with 1:26 left in the game.
Whitworth shots 52.6 percent (30-57) from the field. The Pirates scored 19 points off of 20 Lewis & Clark turnovers. The Bucs got 34 of their 76 points in the paint, and got 25 points from the bench.
In addition to Travis and Belton-Sharp's points, Whitworth got 15 points from Kayla Johnson and eight points from Lauren Picha. Johnson led the Pirates with six rebounds. Travis and KC McConnell each had five rebounds for Whitworth. Travis had four assists and four steals to lead the Pirates, while sophomore Kendra Knutsen also had four steals for the Bucs.
Lewis & Clark was led by Kristina Williams and Katie Anderson, who each had 16 points. Casey Zinn added 12 points for the Pios. Tayler Wang had a game-high 10 rebounds, while Williams grabbed eight boards. Williams had four assists, while Sara Villanueva and Wang each had two steals.