Whitworth Women Win Big In Opener - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Whitworth Women Win Big In Opener

KC McConnel led the Pirates to victory in their opener. (Photo: Whitworth SID) KC McConnel led the Pirates to victory in their opener. (Photo: Whitworth SID)

by Whitworth University Sports Information

The Whitworth University women’s basketball team got things rolling in the second half as the Pirates opened the season with a 72-56 victory over Pomona-Pitzer Colleges in the Whit Classic on Friday evening.

"We really struggled early," Whitworth head coach Helen Higgs said. "We had several players who were having to fill new roles in our first game of the season."

Whitworth (1-0) got off to a slow start in the first half as Pomona-Pitzer (0-1) jumped out to a 4-0 led on straight points from Jenn Okonkwo. Junior Jessica Kramer gave Whitworth its first lead, 7-6, with a jumper at the 14:10 mark, but the Sagehens kept fighting. The teams traded leads throughout the first half, with an Alaina Woo layup giving Pomona-Pitzer its largest lead of the night, 15-10. Whitworth was able to take a 29-28 lead on a layup from senior Jamie Lyons with 1:40 left in the first half, but defensive breakdowns left McKenna VanderKley open under the basket in the waning seconds to give Pomona-Pitzer a 30-29 lead going into the break.

The Pirates began to warm up in the second-half as sophomore KC McConnell hit a three-pointer to put Whitworth in front 37-35 before the Sagehens used a 6-0 run to lead 44-41. Sophomore Lexie Zappone sparked the Pirates on three consecutive possessions, hitting a three to tie the score 44-44, finding sophomore Alexis McLeod for a jumper and then making a pass through the defense to hit Jessica Kramer for a fastbreak layup. Junior Katara Belton-Sharp kept the Pirates rolling, making a layup after stealing the ball on the defensive end. All-in-all, the Pirates made a 10-2 run to swing the momentum of the second half and Zappone sank a pair of free throws to give Whitworth the 72-56 opening win.

"We had to find our flow in the first half. Once we found our groove, we were clicking on both ends of the floor," Higgs said.

The Pirates forced 21 Sagehen turnovers, including two backcourt violations. Whitworth had 37 rebounds, 14 of which came on the offensive glass.

KC McConnell led the team with her first double-double of the season, 21 points and 10 rebounds. Katara Belton-Sharp added 12 points for the Pirates, while Jessica Kramer had eight rebounds, including three offensive boards. Lexie Zappone dished out a game-high nine assists and had three steals.

Jenn Okonkwo led the Sagehens with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Basha Brulee-Wills joined Okonkwo with a double-double, 10 points and 10 boards, while Amelia Hummel chipped in 11 points for Pomona-Pitzer.

Whitworth will face fifth-ranked St. Thomas in the Whit Classic nightcap on Saturday. The Pirates and the Tommies, who are coming off a 77-76 loss to 11th-ranked Whitman, will play a 6:00 p.m., following the Whitman-Pomona-Pitzer matchup at 4:00 p.m.

  • College SportsCollegeMore>>

  • Press Pass Pullman Returns To SWX On Monday

    Press Pass Pullman Returns To SWX On Monday

    Monday, September 1 2014 2:16 AM EDT2014-09-01 06:16:30 GMT
    Press Pass Pullman returns to SWX on Monday night at 10 PM for its third season.>>
    Press Pass Pullman returns to SWX on Monday night at 10 PM for its third season.>>
  • Adams, Eagles Soar Past Montana-Western, 41-9

    Adams, Eagles Soar Past Montana-Western, 41-9

    CHENEY, Wash. -- Eastern Washington University became one of the first teams in college football to start the 2014 season 2-0 thanks to a 41-9 win over the University of Montana-Western at Roos Field on Saturday, Aug. 30.>>
    CHENEY, Wash. -- Eastern Washington University became one of the first teams in college football to start the 2014 season 2-0 thanks to a 41-9 win over the University of Montana-Western at Roos Field on Saturday, Aug. 30.>>
  • No. 25 Huskies Hold Off Hawaii, 17-16

    No. 25 Huskies Hold Off Hawaii, 17-16

    HONOLULU (AP) -- John Ross scored on a reverse and a 91-yard catch and No. 25 Washington held off Hawaii 17-16 on Saturday night despite a weak second half in coach Chris Petersen's Huskies debut.>>
    HONOLULU (AP) -- John Ross scored on a reverse and a 91-yard catch and No. 25 Washington held off Hawaii 17-16 on Saturday night despite a weak second half in coach Chris Petersen's Huskies debut.>>
  • WhitworthWhitworthMore>>

  • Whitworth Head Coach Rod Sandberg In Studio

    Whitworth Head Coach Rod Sandberg In Studio

    Whitworth football head coach Rod Sandberg joined SWX's John Collett in the Fasteners Sports Studio to talk about the upcoming 2014 season at the Pine Bowl on Friday, Aug. 15. Sandberg is entering into his first season as the Pirates head coach after spending 11 years as the defensive coordinator at Wheaton College (Div. III) in Illinois and spent a total of 19 seasons with the Thunder as the linebackers coach before running the defense and also was the recruiting coordinato...>>
    Whitworth football head coach Rod Sandberg joined SWX's John Collett in the Fasteners Sports Studio to talk about the upcoming 2014 season at the Pine Bowl on Friday, Aug. 15. Sandberg is entering into his first season as the Pirates head coach after spending 11 years as the defensive coordinator at Wheaton College (Div. III) in Illinois and spent a total of 19 seasons with the Thunder as the linebackers coach before running the defense and also was the recruiting coordinato...>>
  • Local College Football Fall Practice Schedules

    Local College Football Fall Practice Schedules

    All four of the local college football teams will kick off their Fall practices this week with the 2014 season fast approaching. Compiled below is a list of practice schedules for Eastern Washington University, University of Idaho, Washington State University and Whitworth University.>>
    All four of the local college football teams will kick off their Fall practices this week with the 2014 season fast approaching. Compiled below is a list of practice schedules for Eastern Washington University, University of Idaho, Washington State University and Whitworth University.
    >>
  • Local Basketball Teams Praised By NABC For Excellence

    Local Basketball Teams Praised By NABC For Excellence

    A trio of local University basketball teams have been named among the best academically by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) on Wednesday, July 23.>>
    A trio of local University basketball teams have been named among the best academically by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) on Wednesday, July 23.
    >>