Whitman Hits Free Throws When it Matters

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PARKLAND - The Whitman Missionaries delivered on some late free throws and defeated the Pacific Lutheran Lutes, 65-61, Friday in double overtime during a Northwest Conference women's basketball matchup at Olson Auditorium.

With its second overtime loss in the last three games, the Lutes fell to 4-15 overall (2-9 NWC) while Whitman advanced to 12-8 overall (6-5 NWC). The game also marked the Lutes' eighth loss in a row and extends the team's six-game home losing streak.

Whitman found its groove in the second overtime, scoring the first four points to take a 58-54 advantage. After Mahlet Tingley hit a pair of free throws for the Lutes, Kelly Peterson knocked down two consecutive free throws with 3:07 to play as Whitman maintained its four-point lead.

PLU junior Melissa Pixler spoiled the small lead with a crucial three-pointer bringing the Lutes' deficit to 60-59 with two minutes left. The Lutes got the ball back after a missed shot by Kelly Peterson and then took a one-point lead with a jumper from the elbow by Mandy Wall with 1:15 on the clock.

Mary Madden drew a foul and made two free throws for the Missionaries, helping them gain a 62-61 lead. After a PLU miss and Whitman rebound, the Lutes were forced to foul in order to get the ball back. Jenele Peterson made one of two to put Whitman ahead, 63-61.

The Lutes got the ball back with 22 seconds remaining but when the ball was poked away, players from both teams hit the floor. The possession arrow pointed in favor of Whitman in the jump-ball situation. After a PLU foul, Peterson drained both her free throws and solidified the Missionaries' 65-61 victory.

The Missionaries had plenty of chances to put the Lutes away earlier in the game, but failed to capitalize on a number of free throw opportunities. As a team, the Missionaries shot 18-of-31 from the line, though at one point they were 9-for-20, while the Lutes nailed 17-of-18 from the charity stripe.

The Missionaries led the Lutes 29-25 at halftime. Tiffani Brewer led the first half Whitman attack with eight points. The team shot 41 percent from the field including 4-of-10 from beyond the three-point arc. Whitman held the largest lead in the first half after going up 20-13 after a jumper from Rebecca Sexton.

The two teams rushed into the second half by trading three-point shots from PLU's Jordan Westering and Whitman's Peterson, but both went scoreless for the next four minutes. The scoring drought ended on a jumper from PLU frosh Samantha Potter.  PLU cut the deficit 36-33 after junior Sara Backstrom nailed a three-pointer in response to a Whitman layup.

Whitman pressed the lead to 50-42 with just under five minutes left in the game when PLU sparked a comeback.

Backstrom hit a three-pointer, cutting the Whitman lead to five with 3:30 remaining. The Lutes then kept the Missionaries from scoring on their next three possessions, but the Lutes missed two jumpers and made a turnover.

With two minutes left, Potter knocked down a jumper for the Lutes and Wall followed with a clutch layup, making the score to 51-49 after PLU forced a Whitman turnover.

Wall then stepped to the line with 29 seconds left and sank two free throws in a one-and-one situation, tying the game 51-51.

Whitman held the ball for the final shot and Peterson missed two jump shots as time ticked away, forcing the two teams into overtime.

The Lutes took their first lead of the game, since leading by one point 13 minutes into the first half, when Wall made another free throw and helped the Lutes take a 52-51 lead midway into the first overtime.

With 29 seconds left in overtime, PLU held a 54-52 lead. Whitman's Sarah Anderegg penetrated inside the key with nine seconds left and missed a layup. Wall grabbed the rebound for the Lutes but lost control of the ball. Peterson picked up the loose ball and missed a layup with two seconds left but got her own rebound and made her second attempt, causing a second overtime.

Wall led the Lutes with a game-high 15 points and 12 rebounds. Pixler and Backstrom each had 11 points and Potter added 10 rebounds. The Lutes shot just 27 percent (18-for-66) from the field, including 8-for-24 from three-point range.

Kelly Peterson was one of five Whitman players in double-figure scoring, leading the way with 14 points, including a perfect 6-for-6 at the line. Jenele Peterson added 13 points and four assists, followed by Anderegg with 11 points and Tiffani Brewer and Rebecca Sexton wtih 10 points apiece. Whitman shot 36 percent (21-for-58) from the floor, including 5-for-17 from beyond the arc.

PLU enjoyed a 50-43 edge in rebounding.

The Lutes host Whitworth tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Olson Auditorium, while Whitman travels across town to face Puget Sound.

- PLU -

By Brendan Abshier, student assistant