Whittier lets it rain three’s; Earn first win of the season over Linfield
Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College women's basketball team played their best game of the season against a very tough Linfield squad and came away with the 76-69 victory thanks to 47% shooting from three point territory.
Coming off of three straight losses to Biola, Pacific Union, and Cal St. Maritime, Whittier was destined to get their first win of the season and it came down to their 2011-12 home opener against a Linfield squad who plays in one of the toughest Div. III basketball conferences in the nation.
The Wildcats who are known for their suffering zone forcing opponents to shoot low percentages from the field was unable to handle the cuts and patience of the Poets who opened up the zone throughout the game thanks to quick cuts and dishes to shooters on the perimeter.
Alex Coon for the third time this season led the Poet charge as she played big inside the paint tossing in her first double double of the season including 11 rebounds and 19 points on 6-17 shooting. But she wasn't alone as fellow teammate Brittany Aranda tossed in double digits totaling 16 points and seven rebounds barely missing her first double double. Last game she combined for 22 points and she again followed it up with another spectacular performance showing her ability to take defenders off the dribble to her left side being able to finish high off the glass.
But Whittier showed their depth this evening playing nine deep but getting a big burst from Danielle Quinones who had the biggest game of her collegiate career tallying 13 points on 5-7 shooting that came at crucial times late in the game.
Right before halftime the Wildcats took a one point lead, but with 13 seconds remaining, Quinones came down and knocked in one of her three, three pointers of the game to help Whittier take a two point lead into the half. But she didn't stop there as she came out of the break and hit a quick three to extend the Poet lead to five and the Purple and Gold maintained that lead throughout the second half waiting for opportunities, which came in bunches.
The beginning of the game began as a defensive standoff as both squads played very well forcing each other to take low percentage shots. A big boost to the Poet victory was the bench as they outscored the Wildcats 22-6 for the game. With the Poets mixing up their defensive schemes, they forced 23 turnovers that led to 25 points.
Despite being outrebounded 45-43, the Poets remained patient and waited for their opportunities as they dished out 23 assists thanks to point guards Keimi Lew, Quinones, and Dannika Navales-Lugtu who combined for 20 points and 15 assists.
Not to be overlooked was the play of senior Monica Salazar who started the Poet run as she knocked in back to back three pointers in the first half to get the Poets within one with 1:49 remaining in the first half. She finished with 12 points going 3-6 from behind the three point arc. And collected four rebounds.
Whittier did however get a scare in the final two minutes when they led by 10. But that lead got cut down to five thanks to Katelyn Henson and Sarah Mason who made back to back threes in a span of 30 seconds that got the Linfield bench fired up. But after a bank shot from Quinones and a missed free throw by Kaely Maltman, Whittier ran the clock out to claim their first victory of the season.
For the Wildcats, Maltman led all scorers with 29 points on 11-13 shooting, while Gretchen Owens tossed in 23 points to go with eight rebounds and a perfect 7-7 from the charity stripe. A big boost inside for the Wildcats came from Tyra Barawis who came off the bench to grab 13 rebounds, while collecting four points.
Whittier takes the next few days off due to Thanksgiving and will return to practice on Monday as they begin preparing for the UC Santa Cruz Tournament that is set to take place next Friday and Saturday (December 2-3). The Poets will take on UC Santa Cruz on December 1 beginning at 6pm and then turning back around on December 2 to play Menlo at 4pm.
This is a big test for Whittier to see if they can win on the road because they are still seeking their first road win of the season and this tournament will be a big boost for the squad as they then come back to play five straight home contests.