WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Neither the Missionaries' own shooting struggles nor the relentless onslaught of Whitworth's multi-guard attack could knock Whitman off its perfect course in a Northwest Conference matchup on Tuesday at Sherwood Center. Heather Johns scored 20 points, Alysse Ketner had 13 off the bench and Sarah Anderegg added 12 as the Missionaries held on for a 62-57 victory to remained undefeated.
Win No. 16 in as many tries forced Whitman (7-0 in conference) to summon its toughness down the stretch, both physical and mental. The Missionaries coaxed misses and grabbed crucial rebounds, then made 5 of 8 free throws inside the final 1:09 to stay perfect.
"Any time you play in a game like that, you have to rise to the occasion," Whitman coach Michelle Ferenz said. "I think we felt a little bit of pressure tonight, and we weren't quite ourselves on offense.
"But [Whitworth's] a good team," she added. "You can't take anything away from them. They're always a tough team and [Whitworth head coach] Helen [Higgs] is a good friend. I always know it is gonna be a tough one. It was a great game."
There were 19 lead changes in the second half and one tie, the deadlock coming when K.C. McConnell rained in a 3-pointer as Anderegg stretched to defend her with 2:22 to go.
That's when Whitman got tough.
Anderegg battled for an offensive rebound, scored, and was fouled. Then Hailey Mcdonald secured a Whitworth turnover to earn a possession that led to a Ketner free throw. Anderegg blocked a shot that Ketner corralled; Ketner raced down court and was fouled, her ensuing made free throw giving Whitman a 59-57 lead with :48.9 left.
Ketner forced another turnover, Johns split two free throws, and Whitman got a stop.
Anderegg then swished two free throws with two seconds left.
"I feel like we've had a lot of these games," said Johns, who had seven rebounds and two steals to go along with her game-high 20 points. "There have been several where we've had to come from behind. I'm comfortable in these kinds of games. You're nervous, but it was fun."
Ketner led a strong effort by Whitman's bench brigade. Chelsi Brewer and Hallie Buse each had crucial second-half baskets, and Hailey Ann Maeda came off the pine to snag nine rebounds, one behind Anderegg for team-high honors.
Collectively, the Whitman bench scored 18 points, grabbed 16 rebounds, made three steals and did not commit a turnover.