Pirate Women Upset No. 8/7 George Fox - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Pirate Women Upset No. 8/7 George Fox

The Whitworth women's basketball team upset No. 8/7 George Fox at the Whitworth Fieldhouse on Saturday. The Whitworth women's basketball team upset No. 8/7 George Fox at the Whitworth Fieldhouse on Saturday.

by Whitworth University Sports Information

SPOKANE, Wash. – Key free throws and tough defense led the Whitworth University women’s basketball team to a 72-68 upset of the seventh-ranked George Fox Bruins in Northwest Conference action in Whitworth Fieldhouse on Saturday evening.

“It was such an amazing win tonight,” Whitworth head coach Helen Higgs said. “It was so much fun having so many players make big plays down the stretch against such a high quality opponent.”

Whitworth improves to 18-5 on the season, with a 12-2 NWC mark that lifts them to second place in the conference standings. George Fox falls to 19-3 overall, and the Bruins’ 10-3 NWC record slips them into third in the standings.

Whitworth came out firing, as senior Kayla Johnson had a fastbreak layup in the opening minute to give Whitworth a 2-0 lead. After senior Kendra Lahue’s second three-pointer of the half put the Pirates up 14-4, George Fox was forced to take a timeout. The Pirates led by as many as a dozen in the opening stanza on a three-pointer from sophomore Alexis McLeod put Whitworth in front 23-11 at the 10:20 mark. Whitworth led 29-17 with 6:29 left in the half when George Fox used a 13-2 run to pull within a point, 31-30 with 3:24 on the clock. Whitworth led 35-34 at the break.

George Fox took the lead in the opening minute of the second half and started the back-and-forth scoring. The Bruins went ahead by four points on a three-pointer from Nicole Blizzard with 12:12 left to play, but Whitworth used an eight point swing to take a 55-51 lead with 9:03 remaining in the game. Whitworth led by as many as seven points on a layup from sophomore Lexie Zappone, but the Bruins chipped away at the lead and a layup from Justine Benner put George Fox up 68-67 with 1:26 left on the clock. Down one with just over a minute left to play, the Pirates went to work.

Junior Kendra Knutsen hit a jumper to put Whitworth up 69-68 with a 1:05 left to play. A George Fox turnover put the ball back in Whitworth’s hands with 34 seconds remaining. Sophomore KC McConnell was fouled and made one of two free throws. Kayla Johnson stole the inbounds pass and was immediately fouled. Johnson sank both shots at the charity stripe and sealed the 72-68 win.

“We really battled from start to finish. The atmosphere was awesome and we hope to have the same atmosphere on Tuesday (against Whitman),” Higgs said.

Whitworth shot 72.2 percent (26-36) from the free throw line and made six of their 15 three-pointers. Whitworth converted 22 George Fox turnovers into 17 points, and the Pirates had seven team steals.

Kayla Johnson scored 13 of her 19 points in the second half to lead the Pirates. KC McConnell added 13 points and Kendra Lahue chipped in 11 points. Johnson had a team-high six rebounds. Lexie Zappone dished out four assists and Kendra Knutsen had a team-high three steals.

Justine Benner was the only Bruin to score in double figures with a game-high 23 points. Jordyn Peacock led George Fox with 10 rebounds. Hayley Cusick dished out three assists and Dacia Heckendorf had two steals for the Bruins.

Next up, Whitworth hosts second-ranked Whitman College at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 18th in Whitworth Fieldhouse.