SPOKANE, Wash. - The Whitworth women's basketball team topped Linfield 77-37 on Friday night, securing the best start to open a season in program history and remaining undefeated in capturing its 13th-straight win.
The No. 13 Pirates (13-0, 4-0 NWC) became the first Whitworth women's basketball team to open a season with 13 consecutive victories, surpassing the mark of 12 wins set by the 2004-2005 Whitworth team which finished the season 22-3. Linfield (6-6, 0-3) suffered its third consecutive loss.
Whitworth took command of the game early and never surrendered control, using pressuring defense and a hot shooting start to build an early lead. The Pirates jumped to a 16-3 advantage, led by 12 early points from KC McConnell who also added an assist and two steals during the early spurt.
"KC came ready to play and the team recognized that and did a good job of getting her the ball," head coach Helen Higgs said.
The pressing Whitworth defense forced five Linfield turnovers in the first 5 minutes of action and held the Wildcats to 20 percent from the field in the opening half.
McConnell scored 14 points in the first 11 minutes of the half as Whitworth extended its lead to 18 with just under 9 minutes remaining in the half en route to a 39-19 halftime advantage. The Pirates shot 46.9 percent from the field in the opening period.
"We were able to dictate the style of play," Higgs said. "We talk about dictating the style of play and we were able to do that tonight."
Whitworth led comfortably by double digits throughout the second half and shot 50 percent from the field after halftime.
McConnell scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Whitworth. Lexie Zappone contributed 10 points while Faith Emerson added nine points and seven rebounds off the bench. Fourteen Whitworth players scored at least two points in the victory.
Hannah Depew led Linfield with 12 points. Riley Graham added 11.
Whitworth finished 10 of 10 from the free-throw line and shot 48.4 percent from the field. The Pirates also shot 41.2 percent from long range (7-17).
Higgs noted Whitworth's ability to control the game defensively, as Whitworth held the Wildcats to 25.5 percent from the field in the game and held Linfield to fewer than 20 points in each half.
With the victory the Pirates have now won 11 games by double digits, including eight of their last nine contests.
The Pirates travel to Oregon next weekend to continue NWC action against Pacific and No. 11 George Fox. Whitworth takes on Pacific at 6:00 pm on Jan. 16. before battling George Fox at 4:00 pm the following day.