By Roy Elia
PORTLAND - The Northwest Conference's leading scorer did her part to help the No. 2 nationally-ranked Whitman women's basketball team claim a piece of league history on Saturday night.
Heather Johns scored a game-high 28 points and made 12 of 20 shots from the field as the Missionaries completed an undefeated run through their conference schedule with a 77-70 victory over Lewis & Clark at the Pamplin Sports Center.
"It's not easy," Whitman coach Michelle Ferenz said of the NWC grind. "It's a good conference. It (going undefeated in league) is a credit to this group of young women. They're finding different ways to win basketball games. This time of year, you want to keep winning."
Whitman became the first NWC squad since George Fox (in both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons) to get through league play with a perfect 16-0 mark. It will take a 25-0 overall record into next week's Northwest Conference tournament. The Missionaries will host Puget Sound in Thursday's opening round at a time yet to be determined.
Three other Missionary starters hit double figures on Saturday. Meghan White and Hailey Mcdonald scored 13 points apiece and Sarah Anderegg added 10.
"Sarah got into foul trouble and missed a good part of the first half," Ferenz said. "We tried to protect her a litte bit in the second half."
Lewis & Clark, which upset No. 25 Whitworth, 82-78, on Friday night, ended its season 8-8 and 13-12.
The Pioneers had an early 7-6 edge when Whitman used a 21-8 scoring run over a stretch of eight minutes, 38 seconds to craft a 12-point lead, 27-15. Johns, who tallied eight points during the surge, started the spurt with a jumper at the 16:57 mark and brought it to a productive end with a layup 8:19 before halftime.
"We did a little bit of everything," Ferenz said. "The kids did a good job of attacking what they gave us. We had good ball movement. One of our (other) trademarks is to be able to use our defense to generate our offense."
Lewis & Clark outscored the Missionaries 12-6 the remainder of the period and went into intermission down by only six, 33-27.
Whitman pushed its lead to a baker's dozen on three occasions within the first seven-and-a-haf minutes of the second half - 47-34 on a McDonald jumper at the 14:02 mark, 50-37 when Chelsi Brewer drilled a trey with 13:30 on the clock, and 52-39 on a jump shot by Johns with 12:39 to go.
Anderegg put the Missionaries up by 18, 59-41, after converting a three-point play with 9:06 remaining.
The Pioneers got no closer than seven points the rest of the way.
"Every time they made a play, our kids had an answer," Ferenz said. "Every time they punched, we counterpunched. We have weathered so many runs and won so many games down the stretch that (we) don't get rattled."
#2 Women's Hoops Remains Undefeated After Final Regular Season Match Up
|Whitman (25-0 (16-0 NWC))||33||44||77|
|Lewis and Clark (13-12 (8-8 NWC))||27||43||70|
By Roy Elia