WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Giving away a big lead late in the first half and a smaller lead in the second half, the Whitman College women's basketball team struggled through a 64-61 non-conference loss to Northwest University Wednesday evening in Kirkland, Wash.
Whitman, slipping to 1-3 on the season, was up by 11 points, 34-23, with 2:30 left in the first half before the Eagles swooped back into the contest with a 7-0 run to close out the half.
After Northwest opened the second half on a five-minute 10-4 run, turning a 34-30 deficit into a 40-38 lead, Whitman momentarily righted its ship, regaining a five-point edge.
Senior Jenele Peterson hit a jumper to break a tie at 43, and senior Anna Forge corralled an offensive rebound and fed first-year forward Heather Lovelace for a bucket inside. Lovelace, fouled on the play, made the free throw for a 48-43 Whitman advantage with 12 minutes left on the clock.
But Whitman misfired on its next five field goal attempts and the Eagles tallied seven unanswered points to reclaim a two-point lead.
After junior Shiann Dreadfulwater scored the next two Missionary buckets, forging ties in each case, Peterson's layup put Whitman back on top, 54-52, with just under seven minutes remaining.
The Eagles pulled even with two free throws and then added five more points to take charge at 59-54 with 2:20 on the clock.
Jumpers by junior Mary Madden and sophomore Meghan White kept Whitman close, although Northwest answered both times with points of its own to keep the spread at five points.
Senior Jennifer Keyes, restoring some hope for the Missionaries, nailed her third 3-pointer of the night with 45 seconds left, slashing the Northwest lead to 63-61.
The Eagles let the clock wind down before 6-foot senior center Jessalyn Jackson missed a jumper with 16 seconds remaining. Sophomore Tiffani Traver rebounded for Whitman, which called a time-out 10 ticks still on the clock.
After Jackson's blocked shot turned Whitman away, Emily Drivstuen was fouled and made the first of two free throws to extend the home team's lead to 64-61.
When Drivstuen missed her second try, White rebounded and fired to Peterson streaking up the right side. Her running 3-pointer from about 40 feet hit the front of the rim but bounded away.
Ahead 20-18 with seven minutes left in the first half, Whitman threatened to blow the game open with a 14-5 run, building a 34-23 advantage with just 2:30 remaining. Traver scored all eight of her points during that run.
But the Missionaries missed their next three shots and committed two turnovers, allowing the Eagles to close the gap to 34-30 at the break.
Northwest, a member of the NAIA's Cascade Conference, improved to 2-4 on the season. Jackson paced the victory with 22 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots. Ebany Herd added 13 points, seven steals and five rebound.
White led Whitman with 10 points and seven rebounds. Keyes finished with nine points on her trio of 3-point strikes, and Traver added seven rebounds, five steals and four assists to her eight points.
The Missionaries also got seven points and five boards from Madden and seven points and four rebounds from Peterson. Forge had just two points but was good for six rebounds, four steals and three blocks.
Whitman won the rebounding battle 42-40 but got to the free line just five times, making all five.
While the Missionaries had just one free throw attempt in the second half, the Eagles toed the line a dozen times in each half, collecting a total of 16 points at the stripe.
Whitman shot just 36.6 percent from the floor for the game. Northwest was 12 of 27 from the field in the second half to finish the game at 41.5 percent.
Whitman, now off for the next several days, hosts George Fox and Lewis & Clark on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 3-4, in a pair of early Northwest Conference games. Both games tip off at 6 p.m.
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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; firstname.lastname@example.org