SPOKANE, Wash. – Guard Kayla Johnson scored a game-high 19 points and Whitworth finished strong to polish off the visiting Linfield Wildcats 69-64 Saturday afternoon in a Northwest Conference matchup at Whitworth Fieldhouse.
Emily Guthrie had 15 points and K.C. McConnell added 13 to round out Whitworth’s top scorers. The Pirates outrebounded the ‘Cats 55-33.
Katelyn Henson equaled Johnson’s 19 and Kaely Maltman added another 18 to pace ‘Cats in scoring and the tandem combined for 16 of the Wildcats’ 33 rebounds. Taylor Solomon set a career high with 13 points, going 3-for-3 from behind the three-point arc.
Linfield (1-12, 0-7 NWC) enjoyed a prosperous early start thanks to four points from Henson in the first three minutes. Four quick points from Catie Mets pushed the score to 10-3 in favor of the ‘Cats.
Whitworth (12-5, 5-3 NWC) fought back and evened the score at 10-all with a 7-0 run. The teams battled back-and-forth through the middle part of the first half and a jumper from Katara Belton-Sharp put the Pirates ahead 23-21 with 6:49 remaining.
Linfield kept pace with Whitworth down the stretch and Maltman’s first points of the half got the ‘Cats within three, 28-25. The Pirates scored the final four points of the half however and headed into the break with a 32-25 lead.
McConnell led all scorers in the first with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting. Henson and Mets had eight apiece to lead the ‘Cats in the first. Linfield shot an impressive 40 percent from the field in the first slightly better than Whitworth’s 34.1 percent.
The ‘Cats came out of the break with a bucket from Henson, but Whitworth soon extended its lead. A 9-0 run capped off with a layup from Johnson pushed the spread to 41-27, the Pirates’ largest lead of the game.
Another jumper from Henson cut the deficit to 10 for the time being. Guthrie countered with a three to push Whitworth back up 49-36.
Linfield pulled within six following a jumper from Jessica McMillan (Sr., McMinnville, Ore.) with 8:39 left. Another three from Guthrie put the Pirates up 10 and forced Linfield to burn a timeout.
The ‘Cats never gave up as a jumper from Henson put the visitors within four, 64-60, with 1:33 left. The Pirates kept their composure down the stretch and held on for the win.
AHEAD: Linfield heads to Willamette Tuesday night to complete the first half of the NWC slate. The matchup tips off at 6 p.m.