by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth Pirates will look to continue their five-game win streak this weekend as they head to Whitman College to take on a pair of non-conference foes at the Kim Evanger Raney Classic.
The Bucs open the tournament against fourth-ranked Thomas More at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7 before taking on Colorado College the following day at 2:00 p.m.
Live video and statistics links will be available on the Whitworth women's basketball schedule.
The Pirates: Whitworth (5-1, 2-0 NWC) enters the week as the winners of five straight games, including its first two Northwest Conference games of the year last weekend against Willamette and Pacific (Ore.).
The Bucs used an early 14-2 run to take a lead they didn't relinquish against the Bearcats, leading for all but one minute of the 74-69 victory. Jordan Smith led Whitworth with 24 points and 4 rebounds. The junior guard also combined with Madison Moffat to hold Brittany Kochenderfer, Willamette's leading scorer, to just 11 points on 4-18 shooting. Camy Aguinaldo added a strong all-around game with 13 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds.
Whitworth's 69-53 win over Pacific could hardly have been more different than their victory the night prior. The Boxers jumped out to a 14-0 lead and finished the first quarter with a 19-7 advantage. The Bucs took their first lead with 8:14 remaining in the third quarter and pulled away in the fourth. Led by Smith's 6 points, the Pirates outscored Pacific 23-7 in the final period to pull away with the win. Five Bucs scored in double figures. Jordan Smith led the attack once again with 15 points and Aimee Smith added a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Opponents: Thomas More (7-0) enters its game with Whitworth as a national title contender. The Saints were ranked fourth by d3hoops.com in this week's poll and started the week with an 84-71 victory against #5 Chicago. Thomas More finished last season with a 30-2 overall record and a trip to the Final Four.
This year, Madison Temple leads the Saints with 23.9 points per game on 64 percent shooting from the floor. The senior guard also makes 52 percent of her threes, and her 4.6 steals per game are best in the nation. The Saints thrive when they use turnovers to create easy baskets and are a top-10 team nationally in steals per game (15.6 – 10th) and field goal percentage (52.3% - 1st). Both Asyah Mitchell (12 pts/game) and Shelby Rupp (10.9 pts/game) average double-figure scoring alongside Temple.
After a 3-1 start to the season, Colorado College (3-3) enters the Kim Evanger Raney Classic having lost its last two games to Embry-Riddle (68-51) and East Texas Baptist (72-48). The Tigers opened the year with strong performances against Southern California teams before falling last week. They finished with a 10-17 overall record in 2017-18, including a 65-50 loss to Whitworth in Spokane.
This season, McKenzee Gertz leads the Tigers with 17.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. The sophomore wing is one of three double figure scorers on the team, with Jade Odom (11.2 pts/game) and Casey Torbet (11 pts/game) also providing offensive punch. Nia Duplain is a force on the boards with 9.2 rebounds per game, and Torbet is the leading facilitator (4.3 assists/game). The Tigers have been excellent at defending beyond the arc this year, allowing opponents to shoot just 24 percent from three.
The Best Price is Free: The Pirates have been cashing in on their opportunities from the free throw line this season. Whitworth is shooting a conference-leading 78 percent from the charity stripe, 11th-best in the nation.
How May We Assist You: The Bucs' early season success is due in part to their willingness to share the ball. Whitworth's 16.5 assists per game and 1.05 assist to turnover rate are second-best in the NWC.
All-Conference Camy: Sophomore point guard Camy Aguinaldo established herself as one of the best point gaurds in the Northwest Conference on the way to an NWC Freshman of the Year award last year. This season Aguinaldo is making an impact all over the court once again with 9.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 5 assists per game,
High Motor Madi: Madison Moffat has been one of the best hustle players in the Northwest Conference, and placed in the top-five of the NWC in rebounds, steals and minutes last year. Moffat has made her impact felt all over the court this season as well with 8.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2 steals per game.
On the Air Again: Whitworth's Northwest Conference games are once again carried live this season on KSBN 1230am in Spokane. The relationship between Pirate athletics and KSBN goes back to 1994, a span of 24 years. Bud Nameck is in his second season as the voice of Whitworth basketball. The co-host of 920 KXLY radio's Morning News, Nameck has more than 30 years of experience calling college basketball at Gonzaga University and Washington State.
Looking Ahead: The Pirates will focus on their final exams next week before heading to Northwest Nazarene on Tuesday, Dec. 18.
The Coach: Joial Griffith, a former assistant coach at Williams College (Mass.), begins her first season as the head women's basketball coach at Whitworth University in 2018-19. Prior to her year at Williams, Griffith was the assistant coach at Claremont-Scripps-Colleges in Southern California, near where she grew up. The Athenas made back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances during her two seasons, finishing 20-9 in 2017 and 23-6 in 2016.