One dramatic fourth-quarter comeback Thursday netted the No. 6 Puget Sound Loggers women’s basketball team a spot in the Northwest Conference tournament title game.
Unfortunately, the Loggers could not duplicate that Saturday night.
After losing two overtime games to UPS in the regular season, 21st-ranked Whitman turned the tide at Memorial Fieldhouse by upending the Loggers, 81-72, to earn the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Division III tournament.
The loss ended UPS’s 18-game winning streak.
Five Blues players scored in double figures, led by Chelsi Brewer’s 19 points. Casey Poe added 17 points for Whitman. Alexis Noren led all scorers for the Loggers (25-2) with 24 points.
Yet as she watched her players cut down the nets afterward on the Loggers’ home floor, Whitman coach Michelle Ferenz said she fully expects UPS — which won the regular season crown by three games over George Fox — to not only receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, but also host the first two rounds next weekend.
“I would imagine we’ll be back here,” Ferenz said.
Not that she is complaining, because her squad is playing as well as anybody in the West Region right now after road victories at George Fox on Thursday, and the Loggers on Saturday night.
UPS led big early, only to see the Blues storm back in the following 20 minutes, outscoring the Loggers, 51-28, over the middle two quarters.
“It was a reality check for us,” Noren said.
The knockout run for Whitman (23-4) came in the final 2 minutes, 25 seconds of the third quarter — an 11-0 spurt to grab a 60-49 advantage.
“We’ve played such great games this year,” Ferenz said. “We felt good it was going to be a close game — and that we’d be in it.”
The UPS crew will gather on campus for the NCAA Division III selection show Monday at 11:30 a.m. to find out its fate.
“Coach (Loree Payne) is confident it will be enough,” Noren said. “At this point, it’s out of our hands, but all the work we did early … I think it is a good enough record to clinch an (NCAA Division III) berth.
“To be honest, I am not worried.”