Whitworth Puts End to PLU's Playoff Hopes
SPOKANE - Whitworth outscored visiting Pacific Lutheran 11-2 over the final 3:33 of the game to come away with a 62-57 victory in a Northwest Conference women's basketball contest on Saturday night in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.
The win allows the Pirates (12-11 overall, 8-6 NWC) to control their own destiny toward qualifying for the conference's post-season tournament. The Lutes (7-16, 5-9) saw their hopes of making the conference tournament come to an end.
After Liz Horiatis gave Whitworth an early 4-2 lead, the Lutes answered with a 6-0 run, including four points by Sara Backstrom, to take a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the half. PLU opened its largest lead of the game at 14-8 on a lay up by Mandy Wall, but the Lutes could not shake the Pirates and Whitworth was able to pull within 32-31 at halftime on a pair of free throws by Emily Travis.
Melissa Pixler's three gave PLU a 42-38 lead before Cassie Pilkinton scored five straight points to give the Pirates their first advantage since the opening half. The teams traded leads four times over the next five minutes until Backstrom's basket gave the Lutes the lead back at 49-48 with just over 10 minutes to play. Backstrom scored again to give PLU a 55-51 lead, its largest of the second half, with 3:33 to play. Whitworth went on its final game-winning run with Pilkinton answering with a basket and Leah Pomante hitting a long three to put the Pirates back in front with 2:28 to play. After another defensive stop, Horiatis hit a short baseline jumper with under two minutes left.
With less than a minute to go Pixler's three-pointer was blocked by Natalie Orrell and rebounded by Leah Pomante. Pomante's two free throws with 35 seconds left gave the Pirates the breathing room they needed and capped a 9-0 run.
Pilkinton led Whitworth with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Horiatis posted a double-double of 11 points and 12 boards. Pomante scored five of her eight points in the game-winning run and dished four assists.
Backstrom led PLU with a game-high 20 points, while Pixler added 14. Meghan Dowling led PLU with 10 rebounds.
PLU closes out its 2009-10 season next weekend when it hosts Willamette on Friday and George Fox on Saturday.
(Courtesy of Whitworth Sports Information Office.)