Whittier Builds Big Early Lead, Holds Off Sagehens For 58-53 Win

Whittier, Calif. – Junior guard Alexis Sones (Los Angeles, Calif. - pictured) had a game-high 21 points, but it was not enough as the Whittier Women's Basketball team held off a rally from Pomona-Pitzer for a 58-53 win on Thursday evening.

With the win, the Poets improve to 5-11 overall and 2-3 in the SCIAC, while the Sagehens see their record slip to 3-13 overall and 1-4 in the SCIAC. Pomona-Pitzer trailed by 16 in the first half and cut the lead all the way down to two points twice in the second half, but were unable to dig themselves all the way out of the deficit.  

A three-point play from junior guard Vanessa Ho (Los Angeles, Calif.) had Pomona-Pitzer within 12-9 midway through the first half, but Whittier went on a 9-0 run to pull ahead by double figures at 21-9. The Poets built their lead up to as many as 16 points at 29-13, before the Sagehens closed out the half with an 8-0 run, capped off by a putback from senior forward Asha Gipson (San Diego, Calif.) to close within 29-21 at the break.

The Sagehens then added the first five points in the second half to pull within 29-26 on a lay-up from Gipson before Keimi Lew ended the 13-0 run with a drive down the middle for the Poets.  

Pomona-Pitzer twice got the lead down to two points, as Sones hit a three-pointer to make the score 35-33, and freshman guard Ruthie Shapiro (Moraga, Calif.) had a lay-up to cut the lead to 37-35. The Poets were able to keep the Sagehens at bay with a 5-0 run to push the lead back to seven. Shapiro and freshman guard Caroline Zaia (Napa, Calif.) answered with short jumpers to make it 42-39, but Lew responded with a three-pointer to push the lead to six.

Emma Teyecha hit a big three-pointer with 3:49 left to make it an eight-point game (54-46), but an Emi Hashizume (San Mateo, Calif.) jumper and a Sones three-pointer made it a 54-51 game. The Sagehens earned a stop and had two shots in close to cut it to one, but both fell off the rim, and Brittany Aranda scored at the other end to make it a two-possession game. Aranda then pulled down a defensive rebound after Zaia's runner missed, and the Poets were able to hold on from there.

Shapiro joined Sones in double figures with 13 points. Alex Coon had 12 points to lead Whittier, and Lew added 10.

Pomona-Pitzer will be back in action on Saturday when it hosts La Verne for a 5 p.m. contest at Voelkel Gymnasium.