WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- After scoring five points over the final 11 seconds of regulation to force overtime, Lewis & Clark finished off a 71-69 Northwest Conference women's basketball victory over Whitman College Friday night in Portland, Ore.
The improbable victory keeps Lewis & Clark, ranked No. 7 and No. 8 this week in two NCAA DIII national polls, in sole possession of second place in the Northwest Confence with an 8-1 record.
The Pioneers, 17-1 on the season, snapped Whitman's seven-game winning streak, dropping the Missionaries (6-3 NWC, 10-8) into a third-place tie with Puget Sound in the conference standings.
Whitman appeared to have the game in hand after junior Kelly Peterson knocked down a 3-pointer with two minutes left in regulation and then swished two free throws with 26 seconds left.
That had Whitman on top 63-58, but Kristina Williams capitalized on two Lewis & Clark offensive rebounds, scoring inside and drawing a foul with 11 seconds left.
She missed the free throw, but Taylor Wang rebounded for the Pioneers and got the ball to Katie Anderson, who drew another foul as she launched a 3-point attempt.
Anderson made the first free throw, cutting Whitman's lead to 63-61, but then missed the second. She intentionally missed her third attempt, and the home team was awarded possession when the ball popped from a rebounding scrum and rolled out of bounds.
Williams then collected the inbounds pass and scored on a turn-around jumper in the key to knot the game at 63 and send the contest to overtime.
Lewis & Clark scored the first four points in the five-minute overtime and never trailed.
Whitman three times closed to within two points, once on a jumper by senior point guard Jenele Peterson and twice on layups by sophomore Tiffani Traver.
The Missionaries had a chance to tie with a minute left in overtime, but the shot was blocked. Whitman retained possession only to give the ball back on a turnover.
The Pioneers ran down the clock at their end of the floor, missed a 3-pointer and then collected their 23rd offensive rebound. By the time Lewis & Clark missed again, there was little time left for Whitman.
The heart-breaking loss spoiled a strong night for Jenele Peterson, who played all 45 minutes while scoring 21 points and handing out eight assists. The NWC assist leader made eight of 14 shots from the floor, including two 3-pointers, and three of four free throws.
Junior Mary Madden and sophomore Meghan White scored 12 points apiece to power Whitman's inside game. Both players made five of six field goal attempts while White also snared seven rebounds and blocked three shots.
Whitman also got nine points and six rebounds from Traver and nine points and five assists from Kelly Peterson.
With three of its regulars out with injuries, however, Whitman got just six points from its bench.
Neva Hauser, a 5-foot-10 senior, paced Lewis & Clark with 21 points. Williams finished with 13 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Megan Spence, a 6-foot senior, added 10 points while Wang just missed a double-double with 12 rebounds and nine points. Sara Villanueva was good for eight points and seven assists.
Whitman enjoyed its best shooting night of the season, making 26 of 48 (54.2 percent) shots from the floor. The Missionaries, who lead the NWC in free throw percentage, made 11 of 14 from the line.
Whitman, which also leads the NWC in defending the 3-point shot, had a good night at the defensive end. Lewis & Clark made just 39.7 percent (29-73) of its field goal attempts and 26.7 percent (8-30) of its 3-point tries.
The Pioneers, the top rebounding club in the conference, compensated on the backboards, pulling down nearly two dozen offensive rebounds to win the rebounding battle 38-31.
Whitman opened the game on a 4-0 run and still led by four at 20-16 on White's offensive rebound putback midway through the first half. The Pioneers turned the tables with a 13-3 spurt, moving in front at 29-23 with five-plus minutes left in the half.
The Missionaries stayed close, getting 3-pointers from Jenele Peterson and Traver and two White free throws to trail 36-35 at the break.
Lewis & Clark stretched its advantage to four points early in the second half, but Whitman forged three ties over the next several minutes, the last time when senior Anna Forge drilled a 3-pointer for a 46-46 deadlock with 10 minutes left to play.
Apart from two more stalemates on the scoreboard, the Missionaries held small leads down the stretch until Kelly Peterson hit her 3-pointer and two free throws for Whitman's short-lived 63-58 lead.
In scoring her 21 points, Jenele Peterson increased her career scoring total to 1,096 points, moving past 2002 graduate Sunny Gulberg into 10th place on Whitman's all-time career scoring list.
Whitman stays in western Oregon on Saturday for a 4 p.m. game against George Fox in Newberg.
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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; email@example.com