by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth Pirates return to action this weekend as they will look to snap a three-game losing streak in a pair of home contests against Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran.
The Pirates open the weekend with a 6:00 p.m. contest against Puget Sound on Friday, January 18. Whitworth closes the homestand the following day when it takes on Pacific Lutheran at 4:00 p.m.
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) dropped both of its games last weekend. A sluggish start doomed the Bucs against George Fox and Linfield pulled away late to defeat the Pirates.
George Fox forced 20 turnovers and allowed the Pirates to shoot just 21% in the first half of Bruins' 78-57 victory. The Bucs battled in the second half, but the first half woes were too much to overcome against the 12th-ranked Bruins. Talia Brandner led the offensive resurgence in the second half, finishing with 13 points and 4 assists. Madison Abbott and Camy Aguinaldo joined Brandner in double figures th 11 points each.
The Pirates started much faster the following day, piling up 27 first quarter points against Linfield. It wasn't quite enough though, as the conference's two leading scorers propelled the Wildcats to an 85-81 victory. Molly Danielson and Kory Oleson each scored 22 points for Linfield, though both were outpaced by Aguinaldo's game-high 26 points. Madison Moffat was the only other Buc who scored in double figures. The senior wing totaled 14 points with 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals.
The Opponents: Puget Sound (11-3, 4-2 NWC) has won eight of its last nine games entering the Loggers' matchup with the Bucs. A 91-84 loss to Linfield is the lone blemish on the Loggers' record since December 1. Puget Sound defeated Willamette (66-60) and Lewis & Clark (78-61) last weekend. The Loggers swept the Bucs last season with a 67-58 win in Tacoma and a 72-67 win in Spokane.
Puget Sound boasts two of the top defensive posts in the Northwest Conference. Jamie Lange and Giavanna Sorn both rank in the top five in the NWC in blocks per game with 1.45 and 1.31, respectively. Lange also is second in the NWC in rebounds per game with 10.5 and fifth in points per game with 15.5. Senior wing Elizabeth Prewitt leads the team in scoring with 16.7 points per game (2nd – NWC) thanks in large part to shooting 41.1% from beyond the arc. As a team, the Loggers lead the NWC in blocks per game (3.5) and rebounding margin (+12.5).
Pacific Lutheran (11-3, 4-2 NWC) carries a three-game winning streak into the weekend with victories over Willamette (61-53), Lewis & Clark (59-35), and Pacific (66-59) in its last three contests. The Lutes' two conferences losses were to #12 George Fox and Puget Sound. Last season, the Pirates swept the Lutes with an 87-60 win in Spokane and a 76-54 win on the road.
The Lutes are excellent on defense in 2019. PLU has the best scoring defense in the NWC, allowing 55.1 points per game. They also rank second in field goal percentage allowed (35.9%). On the other end of the floor, Madison Salisbury leads Pacific Lutheran with 16.1 points per game, which she pairs 8.9 rebounds per game. Emma Janousek (10.6 points/game) and Katie Taylor (10.1 points/game) score in double figures as well. The Pirates will need to keep track of Taylor beyond the arc. The freshman makes 2.3 threes per game and hits a conference-best 51.6% of her shots from downtown.
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 13.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.3 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 second-leading scorer (9.2 points/game) thanks to her NWC-leading 54% 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, 46.8% from the floor, and 42.9% from three (3rd 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.
One More SWX TV Game: The Pirates' February 8th NWC doubleheader with Linfield will be televised locally on cable station SWX. Owned by local NBC affiliate KHQ (channel 6), SWX stands for Sports & Weather Right Now. SWX can be seen both over-the-air and through some cable services in the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene, Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, and Yakima viewership areas. In the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area, SWX is found on digital channel 6.2, on Comcast channel 112 in Spokane and Time Warner channel 306 in North Idaho.
Looking Ahead: The Pirates hit the road once again, traveling to Pacific (Jan. 25), Willamette (Jan. 26), and Whitman (Jan. 29) for three games in five days.
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.