by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth Pirates hit the road this weekend to complete a stretch of three games in five days after splitting a pair of tough games in their return to Northwest Conference play.
The Pirates open the weekend on Friday, January 12 in Newberg, Ore., where they take on 12th-ranked George Fox at 6:00 p.m. They close the weekend the following day at 4:00 p.m. when they take on Linfield.
Live video and statistics links for both games are available on the Whitworth women's basketball schedule.
The Pirates: Whitworth (8-5, 3-1 NWC) split a pair of Northwest Conference contests last weekend, defeating Lewis & Clark before falling to Whitman.
The Pirates outscored Lewis & Clark by ten points in the fourth quarter to open the week with a 78-69 win over the Pioneers. Lewis & Clark led for almost the entire game and made 58% of their shots in the first half, but Whitworth dominated down the stretch to earn the win. Five Bucs scored in double figures, led by Camy Aguinaldo's 23 points. Madison Abbott and Megan Dorney provided strong post prescence and combined for 22 points and 13 rebounds.
In Tuesday's Battle of the Whits Whitworth battled from the tip to the finish, but couldn't quite earn a win over Whitman. The Pirates led the Blues 35-32 at halftime after a personal 6-2 run from Jordan Smith, but Whitman battled back in the second half and pulled away late to earn the win. Aguinaldo led Whitworth with 20 points and Smith contributed 17 points on 5-9 shooting from beyond the arc. Abbott and Talia Brandner joined Smith and Aguinaldo in double figures with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
The Opponents: George Fox (11-2, 4-0 NWC) enters the weekend having won 9 of its last 10 games with a one-point loss to Bethel (Minn.) as the only blemish. The Bruins are the only NWC team ranked in the latest d3hoops.com top-25 poll, though Whitman did receive votes. George Fox defeated Whitworth twice last season, winning 86-78 in Spokane and 82-58 in Oregon.
The Pirates will need to be disciplined against the Bruins' full-court press, which forces the nation's fourth-most turnovers per game (28.46). Emily Spencer leads the George Fox defense with a NWC-leading 3.77 steals per game. Spencer is also one of six Bruins who scores at least seven points per game, though none reach double figures. Tavin Headings (9.8 ppg) and Emily Holder (9.7 ppg) lead the George Fox attack. Haylee Hutzler leads the Bruins on the boards with 8 rebounds per game.
Linfield (6-7, 2-2 NWC) opened the season by losing 6 of its first 8 games, but bounced back in recent weeks. The Wildcats enter the weekend on a four-game win streak after victories against Willamette (72-60) and Puget Sound (91-84, OT) last weekend. Whitworth dominated the matchup last year, winning 78-63 in Oregon and 77-57 in Spokane.
Whitworth will have to buckle down defensively to earn wins this year. The Wildcats boast the two top scorers in the Northwest Conference, Molly Danielson (20.5 ppg) and Kory Oleson (19.6 ppg), and the league's third-leading offense (72.3 ppg). The Pirates will have to keep a close eye on Cassidy Schutz (38.6% 3PT) and Maggie Smith (38.9% 3PT) behind the arc as well. Linfield has struggled on the other end of the floor this season, where it allows opposing teams to score 69.9 points per game (8th in NWC) and shoot 32.3% from three (8th in NWC).
All-Conference Camy: Sophomore point guard Camy Aguinaldo established herself as one of the best point guards 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 12.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.7 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 is continuing to stuff the stat sheet this season with 8.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.7 steals per game.
She Shoots, She Scores: When Megan Dorney shoots, odds are high that the ball is headed to the bottom of the net. The freshman post is Whitworth's third-leading scorer (9.9 points/game) thanks to her NWC-leading 54.3% shooting from the floor.
Easy as 1-2-3: Talia Brandner has been one of Whitworth's best shooters from all over the court this season. The freshman combo guard shoots 80% from the free throw line, 46% from the floor, and 40.6% from three (5th in the NWC).
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 return home on January 18-19 to take on Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran.
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.