by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth Pirates battled from wire-to-wire but couldn't come away with a victory, falling 91-85 to the Whitman Blues in Tuesday evening's Northwest Conference contest.
Makana Stone led all scorers with 21 points and Kaelin Shamseldin contributed 20 more for the Blues (10-3, 4-0 NWC). Camy Aguinaldo led the Pirates (8-5, 3-1 NWC) with 20 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals.
"We battled the whole way," Whitworth head coach Joial Griffith said. "This game is a sign of what we can do. We just need to get over the hump."
After a slow first quarter where Whitman took a 14-12 lead, both teams started scoring in bunches in the second quarter. The Blues held the quarter's largest lead, five points, but the Pirates climbed back into the driver's seat with an 8-3 run over the following 2:14. Jordan Smith keyed the run with a three before Courtney Gray dominated the paint for three more points.
The Blues regained a 30-28 lead with 1:31 remaining in the first half, but the Bucs fought hard to take a lead into halftime. Smith went on a personal 6-2 run before Sydney Abbott gave the Pirates a 35-32 advantage with a free throw.
Whitman regained control of the game at the end of the third quarter. With Whitworth leading 54-52, the Blues went on a 9-0 run over the next 1:25. Stone dropped in the first bucket of the run after an offensive board, which Shamseldin and Mady Burdett followed with a pair of threes.
"Stone was really good on the boards tonight," Griffith said. "We were able to get stops in the second half, but couldn't get the rebounds to finish those possessions."
The Pirates made one more run midway through the fourth quarter. Trailing 70-65, Gray got a basket inside and Camy Aguinaldo followed the subsequent Whitman free-throw with a layup. Talia Brandner closed the 7-1 run with a three that gave Whitworth a 72-71 lead.
After the Pirate run and a subsequent stretch of back-and-forth play, the Blues pulled away in the final minute. Taylor Chambers' step-back three and Stone's basket off an offensive rebound put Whitman up 85-81 with 33 seconds remaining. Burdett made four-straight free-throws down the stretch to close the game.
Stone, Burdett (13 pts), and Shamseldin were three of the six Blues to score in double figures. Chambers, Brittaney Van Buren, and Kaylie McCracken all scored 11.
Smith (17 pts), Abbott (12 pts) and Brandner (11 pts) joined Aguinaldo in double figures for the Bucs. Madison Moffat made an impact all over the court with 8 points, 6 rebounds, 5 steals, and 4 assists.
The Blues finished the game shooting 70.4% (19-27) from the free throw line. Whitworth struggled from the stripe, shooting just 55.6% (15-27).
The Pirates return to action on January 11 when they travel to George Fox for a matchup with the 12th-ranked Bruins.