Whitworth Women Can't Complete Upset - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Whitworth Women Can't Complete Upset

Kayla Johnson scored her 1,000th career point vs. George Fox. Kayla Johnson scored her 1,000th career point vs. George Fox.

by Whitworth University Sports Information

NEWBERG, Ore. – Senior Kayla Johnson surpassed the 1,000- point mark of her Whitworth career, but the Whitworth University women’s basketball team came up short of an upset bid against eighth-ranked Northwest Conference opponent George Fox University, falling 59-56 on Friday in Wheeler Sports Center’s Miller Gym. Whitworth falls to 10-4 on the season, 4-1 in the Northwest Conference. George Fox improves to 14-0 overall, 5-0 in the NWC.

“While we were very disappointed to lose such a tough game to George Fox, we don’t want to overlook Kayla scoring her 1,000th point as a Pirate,” Whitworth head coach Helen Higgs said. “I am excited for her and all she has accomplished for us during her career.”

Johnson, who needed just one point to reach the career milestone, accomplished the feat in the opening minute of the game with a jumper in the paint that tied the score 2-2. Each time George Fox made a run to extend its lead, the Pirates chipped away. At the 9:19 mark, the Bruins enjoyed their largest lead of the first half, a 23-14 advantage, but five straight points from sophomore KC McConnell cut the lead to four points just two minutes later. George Fox again pushed ahead to a nine point lead with 5:15 remaining in the half, but an 8-1 run between McConnell and Johnson closed the gap to two points at halftime, 30-28.

Despite George Fox scoring the first basket of the second half, Johnson gave Whitworth its first lead of the game with a three-pointer that put the Pirates ahead 33-32. A jumper from senior Kendra Lahue with 13:59 left in the game gave Whitworth a three-point lead, 39-36, but George Fox fought to maintain its perfect record. The Pirates stayed within striking distance, tying the game twice in the last 10 minutes with baskets from junior Jessica Kramer. A basket from Johnson with 20 seconds remaining gave Whitworth life. George Fox’s Megan Arnoldy made one of two at the free throw line, but a missed Pirate three-pointer at the buzzer gave Whitworth its first conference loss of the season.

Whitworth scored 23 points off of 22 Bruin turnovers. Whitworth turned the ball over 17 times, leading to 13 George Fox points. The Bruins held a 39-30 rebounding advantage over the Pirates.

“I am really proud of our team’s effort tonight. It was a physical and intense game and I feel like we played at a really high level. We were able to battle their height and physicality well and played outstanding on the defensive end, forcing 22 turnovers and holding George Fox well below their season average,” Higgs said.

Kayla Johnson led the Pirates with 24 points and eight rebounds. KC McConnell added 16 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals for Whitworth. Senior Jamie Lyons also grabbed six rebounds for Whitworth.

George Fox was led by Justine Benner and Jordyn Peacock, who each had 12 points. Megan Arnoldy added 11 points and dished out four assists. In addition to Jordyn Peacock’s nine rebounds, she had a game-high two blocks. Hayley Cusick had three steals for the Bruins.

Next up, Whitworth travels to McMinnville, Ore. to take on Linfield College at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 18th.