McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Rallying from an 11-point deficit in the second half, 17th-ranked Whitworth overcame host Linfield for a 68-61 Northwest Conference women's basketball win on Saturday night.
The Pirates appeared headed to their second consecutive defeat, but they instead improved to 19-2 overall and 10-2 in the NWC. The Wildcats dropped to 9-12, 3-9.
Whitworth continues to struggle making shots, so the Pirates went back to what has worked all season – their defense. Whitworth forced 24 Linfield turnovers while committing only seven themselves. The Bucs leads the NWC in turnover margin this season.
Four Whitworth players reached double figures against Linfield, led by KC McConnell's 19 points. Katara Belton-Sharp and Alexis McLeod both ended with ten points and eight boards. Jessica Kramer also finished with ten points.
The Pirates made only 31.7% of their shots (20-63) and 21% (4-19) of their three-point attempts. But they got to the free throw line 34 times where they converted 24 shots (70.6%).
Linfield hit 43% (22-51) from the floor and finished with a 42-37 edge in rebounding. But the Wildcats were undone by their high turnover count. Amantha Hood led Linfield with 13 points and eight rebounds, while Dani Krier added 12 points off of the bench and Jessica McMillan scored ten.
After falling behind by four points early, Whitworth went up 13-9 on a basket by KC McConnell. Whitworth still led 24-20 after a basket by Callie Harwood with 7:25 to go in the half, but Linfield outscored the Pirates 13-5 over the final seven minutes to take a 33-29 lead into halftime. Krier scored eight points, including back to back three-pointers, during that run.
The Wildcats kept the momentum in the early moments of the second half, outscoring Whitworth 7-0 to grab a 40-29 lead with 17 minutes left to play. Jessica Thoens and Kramer hit back to back baskets to start the Pirates on their comeback. Whitworth chipped away and finally caught Linfield when Belton-Sharp scored to tie the game 56-56 with 4:45 left in the game. After the teams traded a single free throw each, the Pirates finished the game on an 11-4 run to gain the victory. Kendra Knutsen's three-point basket with 2:27 to play gave Whitworth a 62-57 lead.
The Pirates will return home to host 4th-ranked George Fox next Friday night in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.