PORTLAND, Ore. -- A career-high 27 points for Ayisat Afolabi led the Lewis & Clark Pioneers to a 79-70 win against the No. 18 Whitman Blues on Saturday at Pamplin Sports Center.
Coming into the matchup, Whitman held on to the number two spot in Northwest Conference standings. The loss dropped the Blues to 14-2 overall and 5-2 in NWC play. The Pios came out with a 12-2 record, 5-3 in the NWC.
In the first quarter, Afolabi led both teams with six points and four rebounds, leading the Pioneers to have a three-point edge. Play was back-and-forth for most of the first half. Lewis & Clark led by two with seven seconds left before senior Deja Nicholas sank both of her free throws to bring Lewis & Clark up by four. Whitman's Mady Burdett sank a buzzer-beater three-pointer to elevate the Blues to within one, 32-31.
"We came out with a lot of heart and a lot of pride," said senior Nicholas, "She [head coach Pamela Findlay] switched the lineup up but we trusted her with it. We came out strong and that's how we wanted it."
Afolabi showed a lot of heart and pride tonight, sinking a 3-pointer halfway into the third quarter, her fourth of the season. She managed to grab a rebound and sank two more points on the next Pios possession, also managing to grab a defensive rebound to complete her 10th double-double of the season.
With two minutes left in the third period, Miyah Leith grabbed a steal, continuing into a fast break to extend the Pioneers lead to three. The Blues brought the game to one point again at the end of the quarter, scoring a three-pointer with 54 seconds left. The Pioneers responded with a trio of Afolabi free throws. TolFollowingother Blues score, Nicholas hit a last-second 3-pointer to bring the Pioneers ahead 52-48 at the end of the quarter.
"Ayisat is phenomenal," said Nicholas. "She needs to be all conference, all nation. She's wonderful. Without her, we wouldn't be winning games. That last two minutes when she got out, she got us that far, and we knew we had to finish for her."
And finish they did. Lewis & Clark held on to the lead for the remainder of the game. With 1:34 left, the Pioneers led by a game-high 10 points. Holding a seven-point lead with 15 seconds left, the Pios shutout the Blues, even getting in another two points to solidify the nine-point lead.
Nicholas ended the night with 19 points and three rebounds. Lauren Wood and Afolabi ended the night with 12 rebounds apiece. Whitman shot 43 percent and was led by Chelsi Brewer's 21 points.
The Pioneers return to the court on Friday to take on Linfield at 6 p.m.
Other Northwest Conference Scores - Saturday
Pacific 60, Willamette 57
Linfield 58, Pacific Lutheran 54
George Fox 90, Whitworth 67