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WALLA WALLA, Wash. – A career-high 28 points from Linfield's Katelyn Henson went for not as Whitman outplayed Linfield in the second half on its way to a 69-58 Northwest Conference victory over the visiting Wildcats Friday evening at Sherwood Center.
Henson, who also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds, had little support as no other Wildcat scored more than six points. With the loss, Linfield fell to 1-11 and 0-6 in NWC play. The ‘Cats have dropped six games in a row.
Whitman forward Mary Madden contributed 16 points and eight rebounds for the Missionaries while Tiffani Traver added a dozen points. Heather Johns (10 points), Meghan White (11), and Sarah Anderegg (10) also reached double figures in the scoring column, and Whitman outrebounded Linfield 38-26. Anderegg, the third-leading scorer in the NWC at 15.5 per game, was held below her season average.
A bucket from Henson inside the first minute of play had the ‘Cats on the board first. Whitman responded with a pair of threes from Madden and the Missionaries went in front 6-5 in the early going.
Whitman (12-3, 5-2 NWC) continued to shoot well and a jumper from Johns pushed the Missionaries’ lead to 16-11 midway through the first. Linfield battled back however, and back-to-back buckets from Taylor Solomon and Henson had the ‘Cats within one, 20-19.
After Tegan Grunwald brought down a defensive rebound, Tayler Martinez finished a layup to put the ‘Cats up for the first time since the opening minute of play. The teams battled back-and-forth into the closing minutes of the first period, as Henson answered a layup from Madden with a jumper to pull the score even at 27.
Intensity picked up in the final seconds and a jumper from Henson set the halftime score at 34-33 in favor of the Missionaries.
The ‘Cats outshot the Missionaries in the first, .577 to .414, but were outrebounded 17-13. Henson led all scorers with 14 in opening 20 minutes, while Madden was close behind with a dozen for the Missionaries.
Whitman came out of the half with four straight points and quickly reestablished a five-point advantage after a pair of free throws from Anderegg. The ‘Cats struggled to keep pace as the Missionaries went up 48-40 midway through the second.
A three from Marah Alindogan followed by a layup from White pushed Whitman ahead 53-42, its first double-digit lead of the game. Linfield had trouble protecting the ball as a pair of turnovers led directly to four Whitman points.
With 5:23 remaining, Whitman pulled in front 63-51 thanks to another layup from Johns. Back-to-back threes from Henson gave the ‘Cats hope as the junior forward cut the deficit to nine. But Linfield failed to sustain the burst of momentum down the stretch.
The Missionaries maintained their comfortable lead into the closing minutes and kept possession to finish the game on top. Linfield struggled from the free-throw line, shooting just .375 compared with Whitman’s .722.
COMING UP: The Wildcats travel to Spokane Saturday for another NWC matchup against the Whitworth Pirates. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m.