PORTLAND, Ore. – When Cal Lutheran and Whitman met on the court in the first round of the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Tournament tonight both teams were looking for the first postseason win in their respective school's history. At the Pamplin Sports Center on the campus of Lewis & Clark it was the Missionaries who would move on as the Regals fell 61-37.
Cal Lutheran won the opening tip-off, but just about everything else tonight went in favor of Whitman. The Walla Walla, Wash. group shot 42.9 percent from the floor for 61 points and grabbed 45 rebounds while the Southern California squad connected for a measly 20.4 percent of their field goals, scoring 37 points with 34 rebounds.
Each team pulled down 16 offensive rebounds and both teams turned the ball over 15 times, though CLU edged WC with eight steals to seven, and that was about as even as the analysis goes.
Heather Jones scored the first points of the game and Whitman never looked back as the sophomore guard was one of three Missionaries players to reach double figures. Tiffani Traver scored a game-high 17 while Jones had 13 and Sarah Anderegg poured in 12.
Jazmyne Porter led the Regals with 12 points and was responsible for the first six CLU points of the game on a pair of layups sandwiching two free-throws. Both Rachel Heagy and Starla Wright scored eight in her final game for the Violet and Gold and Alex Nelson finished with five and two assists to close out her career.
Ten of the 34 CLU rebounds came from senior Channing Fleischmann and Keeley Anderson as each grabbed five while Porter, Wright and Natalie Stone pulled down four apiece. Heagy and Nelson each had a pair of steals and Fleischmann recorded the only CLU block of the night.
Despite entering the night excited, fired up and focused, a poor offensive first half by Cal Lutheran saw the Regals combine to shoot just 17.4 percent from the floor, going 4-for-23. A number of those shots bounced around the rim and out as CLU never found a rhythm while Whitman found the bottom of the net shot after shot.
At the 13:53 mark Heagy cut the deficit in half, to 16-8, when she put back a basket after grabbing an offensive rebound on her own. A steal by Jones and a fast-break lay-up gave WC their first double-figure lead of the night three possessions later.
Wright would pull the Regals back within eight at 21-13 with 8:40 remaining in the opening period after Nelson went to the line where she converted three free-throws after being fouled. Unfortunately, a 7-2 run by Whitman pushed their advantage to 13 on a Traver three-pointer and the Missionaries took a 15-point, 33-18, lead into the locker rooms at the mid-way point.
The second half started with Wright scoring on the second offensive rebound of the play for the Regals, but Whitman would match it with a pair of their own. A Porter three-pointer then a steal by Nelson and a block by Fleischmann got the CLU bench up briefly.
Whitman would score the next seven points uncontested and took a 21-point lead with 13:06 in regulation before Heather Lovelace gave the Missionaries their largest lead of the game, 26 points, on a pair of free-throws with just over a minute and a half to play.
Defensively for WC, Meghan White had a game-high 12 rebounds and three blocks adding three assists and a pair of points. Anderegg was a rebound shy of a double-double with nine boards.
Tonight the field of 64 was cut in half as 32 teams will compete tomorrow in the second round. Tip-off between Whitman and No. 13 Lewis & Clark, who defeated Trinity (Tex.) 78-49, is set for 7:00 p.m. Saturday, March 2. The winner will advance to the Sweet 16 next weekend.
Cal Lutheran (23-5) concludes their 2012-13 campaign tied for the most wins in a single season and the senior class was part of 74 victories.