by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – Talia Brandner scored 19 points off the bench to lead Whitworth in a dominant 81-57 win over Pacific Lutheran.
Madison Salisbury and MacKenzie Cooper led the Lutes (11-5, 4-4 NWC) with 12 points each.
"Everyone contributed tonight and our defense and rebounding showed a lot of improvement," Whitworth head coach Joial Griffith said. "Talia gave us a huge offensive spark off the bench."
Pacific Lutheran led for the majority of the first quarter, jumping out to a 12-6 lead on free throws from Kylie Rademacher and a 15-13 advantage on a three-pointer from Cooper. The Pirates recovered to take an 18-15 lead on a three from Brandner and led for the remaining 31 minutes of the game.
Whitworth stretched its lead out to 16 after a 19-6 run that spanned the first 5:32 of the second quarter. Madison Moffat dropped in six of her nine points during the run and Brandner contributed four more.
The Pirates extended their lead to 21 points at halftime with a 7-0 run to close the second quarter. Abbott scored the Bucs' final four points of the run as the Pirates allowed less than 10 points in a quarter for the second time in two days.
"Our defense in the second quarter was some of our best all season," Griffith said. "Forcing turnovers and speeding them up gave us a lot of energy."
Kristin Sturdivan led a brief Pacific Lutheran comeback attempt in the third quarter. Sturdivan scored four points in a 10-0 run that cut Whitworth's lead to 14 in the middle of the period. Moffat halted the spurt with a pair of free throws.
Brandner put the game away early in the fourth quarter with a personal 7-2 run that extended the lead back out to 20. The freshman guard opened the run with a traditional three-point play before draining two jumpers.
Whitworth shot a season-high 55.8% (29-52) from the floor and 33.3% (3-9) from three. The Bucs' defense held the Lutes to 32.1% (17-53) shooting from the floor and just 20% (2-10) from beyond the arc.
The Pirates outrebounded the Lutes 41-31. Abbott led Whitworth on the boards with eight, including five offensive rebounds.
The Bucs are back in action on Friday, January 25 when they travel to Forest Grove, Ore. to take on Pacific.