by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitworth continues its longest homestand of Northwest Conference play this weekend as the Pirates play host to Linfield and George Fox.
The Bucs open the weekend February 8 with a 6 p.m. matchup against the Wildcats. Whitworth takes on the 13th-ranked Bruins the following day at 4 p.m.
Live video and statistics links for both games are available on the Whitworth women's basketball schedule.
The Pirates: Whitworth (10-9, 5-5 NWC) split its games last week, falling to #22 Whitman before bouncing back with a dominant win over Lewis & Clark.
The Pirates trailed by as many as 18 in the third quarter of their mid-week contest with the Blues, but Whitworth rallied in the fourth to cut the lead to 6. Whitman responded by making all eight of its free throws in the final minute to earn an 89-78 win. Camy Aguinaldo and Talia Brandner led the Pirate comeback and finished with 19 and 17 points, respectively. Sydney Abbott added 13 points and 4 steals.
In a contrast to their contest with the Blues, the largest deficit Whitworth faced against Lewis & Clark was just two points. The Bucs pulled away with a 13-1 run near the end of the first quarter and refused to look back in an 82-63 victory. Aguinaldo scored a season-high 29 points and also racked up 4 steals in the win. Megan Dorney dropped in 14 points and Abbott added 12. Madison Abbott contributed all over the court with 8 points, 5 steals, 4 assists, and a block.
The Opponents: Linfield (10-11, 6-6 NWC) is Whitworth's primary competition for the fourth and final spot in the Northwest Conference tournament. The Wildcats come to Spokane looking to bounce back from losses last weekend to Puget Sound (82-62) and Willamette (74-52). The Wildcats sank the Pirates 85-81 when Whitworth traveled to Oregon in January. Kory Oleson and Molly Davidson led Linfield with 22 points each and Camy Aguinaldo paced Whitworth with 26 points.
The Pirates are one of many teams that have struggled to stop Davidson and Oleson this season. The duo currently leads the NWC in scoring with 19.8 (Danielson) and 19.2 (Oleson) points per game. Danielson is also fourth in the conference with 8.9 rebounds per game. Cameron Reuter and Cassidy Schutz each bring 3.4 assists per game into the weekend and will manage the Linfield attack from the perimeter.
Thirteenth-ranked George Fox (18-3, 11-1 NWC) enters the weekend on a six-game winning streak, including wins over Pacific (70-57) and Pacific Lutheran (62-40) last weekend. Two of the Bruins three losses this season are to ranked teams, a 73-54 defeat to #22 Whitman and a 76-73 loss to #3 St. Thomas. George Fox defeated Whitworth 78-57 in the teams' last contest. Tavin Headings scored a game-high 18 points in just 14 minutes for the Bruins. Talia Brandner led the Pirates with 13 points.
Headings (12.4 points/game) is one of three Bruins who averages at least nine points per contest, joining Emily Spencer (9.7 points/game) and Emily Holder (9.5 points/game). Spencer also keys the Bruins pressure defense with 4 steals per game, though she is prone to foul trouble with 3 personal fouls per contest. George Fox leads the Northwest Conference in steals per game with 15.9. The Bruins also force a conference-best 27.9 turnovers per game.
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.
Tough Sledding: The Pirates have played a schedule stacked full of nationally ranked teams from Division II and III. The Bucs have taken on #2 Thomas More (#4 at the date of the game), #13 George Fox (#12), #22 Whitman (#24) and Division II #8 Northwest Nazarene (#7).
Strength in Numbers: Whitworth's bench has provided plenty of scoring this season. The Bucs bench scores 26.4 points per game, while Pirate opponents have only scored 20.6 points per game. The Whitworth bench's best performance of the year came against Pacific Lutheran, when it scored 50 points. Talia Brandner led that effort with 19 points and Sydney Abbott contributed 10 more.
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 a team-leading 13.9 points, 2.9 assists, and 2 steals 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 7.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.6 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 (8.5 points/game) thanks to shooting 52% from the floor, which is the third-best percentage in the NWC.
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 83.3% from the free throw line, 46.6% from the floor, and 36.4% from three (8th in the NWC).
On the Air Again: Whitworth's Northwest Conference games are once again carried live in Spokane this season on KSBN 1230am. The relationship between Pirate athletics and KSBN goes back to 1994, a span of 24 years. Bud Nameck is in his third 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 close the regular season in Tacoma, where they 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.