Poets stun Athenas in upset of year 59-56; Keep playoff hopes alive

Poets stun Athenas in upset of year 59-56; Keep playoff hopes alive

Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com

Claremont, Calif. – The Whittier College women's basketball team celebrated their biggest upset of the year as they knocked off the Athenas of Claremont-M-S 59-56 Saturday evening  in a game that came down to the final buzzer.

Whittier now moves to 7-14, 4-6 SCIAC, while Claremont-M-S drops to 13-8, 7-3 SCIAC. 

The Purple & Gold who lost at home to the Athena's back on January 21 62-56 avenged the loss this evening narrowly upsetting the Athena's keeping their playoff hopes alive.

The Poets who have continually been one loss away from elimination as of late have bounced back to keep their SCIAC post season berth alive behind a strong performance within the confines of Ted Ducey Gymnasium in front of a fan base of almost 200. 

Whittier had four players reach double figures led by freshman Dannika Navales-Lugtu who finished with 12 points including 9-of- 10 from the charity stripe.

The Athena's got up early 6-0 in the first half and then extended their lead to 10-2 until Whittier went on a 7-0 run behind two jumpers from Tanisha White who finished with 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting including going 2-of-4 from behind the three point line. The first half continued to go back and forth with Whittier unable to take a lead until the 5:18 mark when White knocked in a three pointer to give the Poets their first lead of the contest 25-24.

From there Whittier added another four points helping them grab the lead going into the half 29-26.

Coming out of the break, Whittier began to play more physical inside and forced four turnovers but the Athena's were still able to regain the lead 36-31.  But Whittier didn't go away as Navales-Lugtu got the Poets within one at the 9:11 mark, while Claremont-M-S continued to maintain a two point lead up until three minutes remaining when they fell apart on the defensive side of the court. 

With 3:35 remaining Whittier went on a 10-0 run behind Navales-Lugtu's six free throws and was able to take their second lead of the contest 56-51.  CMS eventually got within two once more behind Frannie Hemmelgarn who finished with a game high 17 points, but this would be as close as they would get as Whittier closed out the half with three free throws helping them preserve the three point win.

Coach Brad Durchslag stated "this was the biggest win of the seaon for the girls and when it came down to win and you remain in the hunt for a post season berth the girls stepped up and made big shots and free throws down the stretch.  This was a great team win."

Whittier now sets their sights on the Regals of Cal Lutheran University and will travel to Thousand Oaks, Calif. to take on a Regal team who pulled out a victory within the Graham Athletic Center early in the season.  This game is set for Thursday, February 9 beginning at 7:30pm.