NEWBERG, Ore. – Second half struggles plagued the Whitworth women's basketball team as the Pirates fell 70-59 to the 25th-ranked George Fox Bruins on Friday evening in Wheeler Sports Center Miller Gym. George Fox improves to 11-3, 4-1 in Northwest Conference play, while Whitworth falls to 10-5, 3-3 in conference play.
"We let an opportunity to get a road win slip away," Whitworth head coach Helen Higgs said. "We played really hard and executed well, but for one stretch in the second half our shots didn't fall."Redshirt junior Emily Travis gave the Pirates the lead first with a layup in the opening seconds, but George Fox scored the next nine points to go up 9-2. George Fox led by as many as seven in the early going, but senior Emily Guthrie hit back-to-back three pointers to put Whitworth in front at the 8:20 mark. The teams traded leads over the remaining eight minutes in the first half until Hayley Cusick made a layup with 25 seconds left in the half to put the Bruins ahead by two. Megan Arnoldy sank a pair of free throws just seconds before the break to put George Fox in front of Whitworth 35-31 at halftime.
The Bruins opened the second half with a 10-0 run and pushed their lead to 14 points in the first seven and a half minutes of action. Whitworth struggled from the field in the second half, getting its first field goal from junior Bethany Fleming after almost eight minutes of play. Guthrie hit a key three-pointer that pulled the Bucs within six with just over five minutes remaining in the game, but George Fox used 14 free throws in the closing minutes to ensure the Bruins' victory.
"I thought we defended well but didn't finish it with a rebound in the second half," said Higgs. "We will regroup and focus on some specific fundamentals."
At halftime, George Fox held just a 14-13 edge on the glass, but the Bruins dominated the boards in the second half and finished the night with 42 rebounds, including 12 offensive rebounds that led to 13 Bruin points, while Whitworth finished the game with 30 rebounds.
Emily Travis led the Pirates with 17 points and three steals. Emily Guthrie finished the night 4-8 from behind the arc for 12 points. Junior Kayla Johnson led the Bucs in rebounding with six boards; she also had a team-high two blocks. Freshman KC McConnell had five rebounds for the Pirates, while senior Lauren Picha finished the night with three assists.
Four Bruins finished the night in double figures. Megan Arnoldy led all scorers with 21 points. McKenzie Wolfe recorded a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Jami Roos added 14 points, while Hayley Cusick chipped in 12 points for the Bruins. Arnoldy also pulled down seven rebounds. The Bruins were without their leading scorer, senior Hannah Munger, and leading rebounder, sophomore Megan Hays.
Next up, Whitworth will host Willamette at 6:00 pm on Friday, January 18th in Whitworth Fieldhouse. The game will be televised on local cable station SWX.