Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News Peninsula’s Jenise McKnight, right, takes the layup past the defense of Whatcom’s Lindsey Honeycutt in third-quarter action on Wednesday in Port Angeles.

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News Peninsula’s Jenise McKnight, right, takes the layup past the defense of Whatcom’s Lindsey Honeycutt in third-quarter action on Wednesday in Port Angeles.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Peninsula regains passion, rallies to win

PORT ANGELES — The Peninsula women came out flat in the first half against Whatcom, but after a talking to at halftime about playing with passion, came out roaring in the second half for a come-from-behind 78-69 win over Whatcom to remain in first place in the NWAC North Division.

Whatcom had their way early with the Pirate women, ending the half on a 13-2 run to take a 40-36 lead into the break. The Orcas’ star Linsey Honeycutt, leading the entire NWAC with a 29.3-point scoring average, was a big part of the action, scoring 18 by halftime.

Honeycutt, an exceptionally strong inside post player, had 23 points just four minutes into the second half, but the Pirates were able to contain her over the last 16 minutes of the game, holding her to just six points the rest of way. She ended up hitting her scoring average almost exactly at 29.

Alicia Dugan, who hit a pair of 3-pointers, and had 12 points and seven rebounds until she was forced to leave the game with cramping in her calf, said the team simply played with more energy in the second half. The Pirates closed the game out on a 28-16 run to blow open what had been a close, tough contest.

“Mostly, we were all playing for each other. We were a little more selfless,” said Dugan.

Dugan said the Pirates also weren’t rebounding in that first half. The second half saw a dramatic turnaround in that department. In the first half, the Orcas led the Pirates in rebounds 27-16 (Honeycutt had eight boards). In the second half, the Pirates outboarded the Orcas 28-21. Honeycutt had just three boards in that second half.

Dugan also said Peninsula also realized that Whatcom was not a good defensive team. The Pirates didn’t shoot that well from outside so, they got much of their offensive explosion in the second half driving to the basket for easy inside buckets.

“We finally figured that they weren’t really playing defense,” Dugan said.

Coach Allison Crumb said, “I hated the first half.” She said her team wasn’t playing with any emotion and they weren’t performing for the home fans or giving them any reason to get excited.

“What we do is no different than an artists. We were wasting an opportunity at home,” she said.

In the second half, after a talking to at halftime, the team played much harder and had more fun. The bench was making more noise and the fans got into the game more.

Crumb said the Pirates knew Honeycutt was going to be a handful coming in, but in the first half, the Pirates “let her do what she wanted.” In the second half, she was often double- and even triple-teamed and “we made things harder for her,” Crumb said. Honeycutt shot just 4-for-10 in the second half and only went to the line three times after nine free throws in the first half.

The comeback began late in the third quarter and was sparked by Dugan, Jenise McKnight and Milan Barnes. With the Pirates trailing 53-50, starter Anaya Rodisha, who earlier took a hard blow to the face, had to leave the game with cuts around her eye. Dugan responded with a 3-pointer to tie it, then McKnight scored a bucket, stole the ball on the Orcas’ next possession and fed Barnes for a basket.

Then, Barnes hit a 3-pointer for her fifth straight point. Dugan had a rebound and a putback on the Pirates’ next possession. Very quickly, the Pirates had turned a deficit into a 62-54 lead early in the fourth quarter and completely changed the tone of the game as the Orcas struggled to catch back up. Whatcom never got closer than five points again.

McKnight had a great overall game with 20 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Yamelei Rodriguez had a great game with 15 points, with much of her scoring coming in the post against the bigger and stronger Honeycutt. Tiffani Smith scored 10.

The win puts the Pirates at 6-1 (14-6 overall) in the North Division, tied for first with Bellevue.

The Pirate women get a badly needed break to heal and don’t play again until hosting Shoreline on Wednesday. In addition to Dugan’s calf issues, both Rodisha and McKnight are coming off knee injuries.

Peninsula 78, Whatcom 69

Whatcom 21 19 19 15— 69

Peninsula 17 19 19 23— 78

Whatcom (69) — Honeycutt 29, Morgan 18, Nigretto 14, Tift 5, Washington 3.

Peninsula (78) — McKnight 20, Rodriguez 15, Dugan 12, Smith 10, Thomas 6, Barnes 5, Yayouss 4, Rodisha 3, Geberyesus 3.

________

Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]

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