SPOKANE, Wash. – An Emily Travis basket with 1.8 seconds to play lifted Whitworth to a 53-52 upset of seventh-ranked Lewis & Clark on Friday night at the Whitworth Fieldhouse.
The Pirates held the visiting Pioneers to 31% (17-54) shooting from the field to improve to 15-5 overall and 8-3 in the NWC. More importantly Whitworth moved within a game of Lewis & Clark (18-2, 9-2) atop the conference standings.
"It was one of the best defensive efforts we have ever had at Whitworth," said Pirate head coach Helen Higgs. "I felt like we really caused LC a lot of problems and they had to adjust their offensive game plan."
Whitworth led 15-13 with 11 minute to play in the first half before closing on a 15-5 run. Kendra Lahue's jumper gave the Bucs a 30-16 lead, but Katie Anderson scored at the buzzer to pull L&C within 30-18 at halftime. Whitworth made 46% (12-26) of its shots in the first half and held the Pioneers to 28% (7-25).
Travis scored to give the Pirates one more 14-point lead (39-25) with 13:22 to play. But then the Pioneers began to chip away. A Kristina Williams three-pointer pulled L&C within 41-36 with under ten minutes to go. She scored again to make it 41-40 two minutes later.
But Whitworth stiffened, pulling back out to a 51-44 lead on a Jamie Lyons free throw with 1:50 to play. The Pioneers had one more furious run, outscoring the Pirates 8-0 over the next 1:40. Anderson calmly made three free throws with 10 seconds left to give L&C a 52-51 lead.
Travis then worked the ball on the left side and banked her shot in from 10 feet with 1.8 seconds to go. L&C's final pass from midcourt sailed long.
"I was proud of our mental toughness as LC made their run and e eventually took the lead," Higgs said. "We always believed we were finishing that game with a win."
Travis finished with a game-high 19 points, making 7 of 18 from the field and 4-4 from the free throw line. Lahue and Kendra Johnson each scored nine. KC McConnell led all players with a career-high 13 rebounds, helping the Pirates gain a 39-38 edge on the boards.
Williams led L&C with 18 points and eight rebounds. Anderson had 14 points off of the bench.
Whitworth will look for its sixth win in a row when the Pirates host Pacific on Saturday night.