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Makana Stone collected 10 points, 13 rebounds, and three steals Saturday in a college basketball playoff game. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Now they wait to find out their fate.

Swamped by too many turnovers and too many missed shots, especially from outside the paint, the Whitman College women’s basketball squad came up short Saturday in Newberg, OR.

Falling 66-52 to host George Fox University in the championship game of the Northwest Conference postseason tourney, the Blues fell a win shy of earning an automatic bid to the NCAA D-III national championships.

While George Fox (24-3) is definitely on its way to March Madness, Whitman (20-7) waits until the selection show Monday to find out if it gets in with at an-large bid.

The Blues have a strong body of work to support their quest for an invite, including a 19-point win over George Fox earlier this season.

Unfortunately, Whitman couldn’t repeat that victory Saturday, a game in which it got swarmed by an ultra-aggressive defense and buckled.

In a contest where 10 different Bruins scored, Whitman essentially played 2-on-5 for much of the night.

Senior Maegan Martin, who had never topped 20 in her college playing days, poured in a game-high 28, while Coupeville’s Makana Stone delivered with 10 points, 13 rebounds, three steals, and a big blocked shot.

Whitman’s twin towers got little help from their teammates, however, with no one else scoring more than three points.

In between a horrifying amount of turnovers (some forced, many not), the Blues hit on just 19 of 47 shots, including a crippling 6-21 in the first half.

For the game, the #1 three point shooting team in the league went 0-9, while George Fox rattled home 7-19.

Whitman came into the title game averaging 76 points a night, but started cold and never fully recovered.

The Blues didn’t get their first bucket until two-and-a-half minutes in, when Mady Burdett knocked down a runner.

It would be the only shot the First-Team All-Conference guard, who averages 15 points a game, would hit while being hounded relentlessly by platoons of Bruins.

Down just 16-10 at the first break, Whitman suffered through a brutal second quarter, watching its deficit balloon out to 21 points shortly before halftime.

Martin swished a pair of free throws, followed by Stone taking a steal coast-to-coast for a layup to end the half, but George Fox squashed every Whitman comeback hope in the second half.

Down by 20, the Blues ended the third on a 9-0 surge, but the Bruins immediately answered to open the fourth.

It was virtually the same seven minutes later, as Whitman, behind their interior one-two punch, closed to within 10 with a hair over three minutes to play.

George Fox promptly came up court, ran the clock down, then drilled another three-ball to permanently ice the game.

While she’s hoping for a trip to the NCAA tourney, Martin, Whitman’s lone senior, played what could be her final collegiate game with a vengeance.

An Honorable Mention selection when the NWC picked its All-Conference teams last week, she has been a strong role player all four years.

Martin’s career high entering Saturday’s game was 19 points, but she carried the Blues, hitting 11-18 from the field and 6-7 from the line.

Stone dominated the boards, with her 13 rebounds coming in a game in which no other player, on either team, collected more than six.

It was the 12th double-double for the former Wolf ace this season.

As she waits for an NCAA bid, Stone sits with 388 points, 227 rebounds, 40 assists, 31 steals, and 21 blocks during her junior campaign.

She’s hit 162-318 (50.9%) from the floor and 63-79 (79.7%) from the line.

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Coupeville grad Makana Stone returned from an injury to score a team-high 16 points Friday for Whitman. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It was a good news, bad news kind of night Friday in Walla Walla.

On the positive side, Coupeville’s Makana Stone was back on the floor after missing a game with a sprained ankle.

But while the former Wolf was running seemingly effortlessly after sitting a week-plus, and went off for a team-high 16 points, Whitman College came up just short in the biggest game of the year.

With Stone padlocked to the bench after picking up a phantom fifth foul with two-and-a-half minutes to play, the Blues couldn’t hold on to a one-point lead in the final minute, falling 61-57 to visiting George Fox.

The loss gives Whitman a season split with their biggest women’s basketball rivals, with both teams winning on the other’s floor, and it comes at a crucial time.

George Fox, the defending Northwest Conference champs, moves to 12-1 in league play, and sits a game up on Whitman (11-2) with three to play.

Whitman, 17-5 overall, has already clinched one of the four playoff berths for the NWC postseason tourney, and can finish no lower than third in the final standings.

The Blues finish their run through the nine-team league with a string of tough games.

After hosting #4 Linfield (7-6, 11-11) Saturday on Senior Night, Whitman closes the regular season on the road Feb. 15-16 against #3 Puget Sound (10-3, 17-4) and #5 Pacific Lutheran (6-7, 13-8).

Friday night’s rumble with George Fox pitted the top offense in the Northwest Conference against the top defense.

In the end, the defense triumphed … with a little help from the refs, who compounded the call on Stone by also whiffing on a crucial non-call with 12 seconds to go which would have given Whitman a chance to tie the game.

Right before fouling out, Stone hit a huge bank shot to cut Whitman’s deficit to 51-49.

Even after losing their top scorer and rebounder, the Blues hung tough, taking a 53-52 lead with a hair over a minute to play, thanks to back-to-back buckets from Taylor Chambers, who hadn’t scored all night.

Whitman then shrugged off a George Fox three-ball thanks to a nifty Natalie Whitesel reverse layup which knotted things at 55 all.

The final 30 seconds, though, belonged to Bruin star Emily Spencer.

A demon on defense all night, she stepped up to drill the already-mentioned trey, then put George Fox ahead to stay with a slashing layup with just 26 ticks left on the clock.

Whitesel had a chance to go to the line, but all three refs ignored the Prairie High School grad being hammered by a host of Bruins on the ensuing layup attempt.

From there, George Fox swished all four of its free throw attempts in the game’s final 10 seconds, with Spencer appropriately dropping the final daggers, and Whitman’s last chance wafted away.

The game started as an offensive show, with Stone slamming home six points in the opening quarter, to go with 10 from hot-shooting teammate Mady Burdett.

While Whitman trailed 22-20 at the first break, thanks to George Fox scoring right at the buzzer, the Blues looked strong.

And no one played as effectively as Stone did, as she picked the ball from a George Fox ball-handler and went coast to coast for a breakaway bucket.

On defense, she was equally a force, rejecting a shot and twice forcing opposing post players into committing travels as they tried to get around her in the paint.

A Burdett three-ball capped a 7-0 Whitman run, sending the Blues into the locker room up 33-30.

That stirred positive memories of the first meeting between these teams, for everyone from the announcers on the internet stream to random people watching the feed in ice-covered Coupeville.

Back on Jan. 12 in Newberg, OR, Whitman savaged George Fox in the third quarter and turned a three-point halftime bulge into a 73-54 blowout.

Friday night, however, the Blues went cold from the outside, and it hurt them.

After scoring 13 in the first half, Burdett was held scoreless across the game’s final 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, Whitman, the best three-ball-shooting team in the league, suffered through a 3 for 17 performance from behind the arc.

Stone did what she could, powering her way to three more buckets in the third, but Spencer stung Whitman for the first of many times, popping an offensive rebound back up and in with a single second on the clock.

That staked George Fox to a 45-44 lead heading into the fourth, and then the ref’s glaucoma became an issue.

Stone, who missed a chunk of the game after injuring herself against Whitworth Jan. 29, then sat out against Lewis & Clark Feb. 1, made her return an auspicious one.

Netting her 16 points on strong 8-11 shooting, she also ripped down six rebounds, pilfered two steals and rejected a shot in 27 minutes of floor time.

On the season, the Whitman junior sits with 313 points, 181 rebounds, 38 assists, 25 steals and 18 blocks.

Stone is shooting 132-257 from the floor and 48-62 at the free throw line.

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Coupeville grad Makana Stone delivered 17 points and 11 rebounds Saturday, as Whitman College won a battle for first-place in its league. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They can’t pronounce her name, but they also can’t deny her game.

The announcers working the stream for Saturday’s women’s college basketball rumble between Whitman College and host George Fox University were rabid homers, but they were blown away by Coupeville’s Makana Stone.

They loved her power in the paint. Her speed on the open floor. Her ability to soar above others and snatch rebounds away, then spin and knock down a second-chance bucket.

Even if they kept on saying her first name as if there were somehow an E and not an A sitting there as the second letter.

But, let’s cut them a small break, as they spent the second half all but only weeping into the microphone, as Stone and Whitman decimated George Fox in the biggest game of the season.

It was a match-up which pitted two teams undefeated in Northwest Conference play, though, after a sensational third quarter, only Whitman can still lay claim to a zero in its record.

Busting out 31 points across 10 torrid minutes, Stone and Co. turned a one-basket game into a blowout, rolling past George Fox to the tune of 73-54.

The win, the sixth-straight for Whitman, lifts it to 6-0 in league play, 12-3 overall.

After knocking off the #12 team in NCAA D-III basketball, the Blues sit alone at the top of their league, a game up on George Fox (5-1, 12-3) and two ahead of Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound (both 4-2, 11-3).

While there’s still 10 games left in the conference schedule, including a rematch with George Fox Feb. 8 in Walla Walla, Saturday’s win was huge for Whitman.

The Blues jumped out to a quick lead behind a pair of buckets from Stone, who finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, then the two teams went toe-to-toe.

Whitman knocked down a jumper right before the first quarter buzzer – after yanking down four straight offensive rebounds – to exit with a 17-15 lead, then things got tense.

With both squads jabbing at each other, neither team could get more than a bucket or two ahead and were tied with under 30 seconds to play in the half.

Taylor Chambers and Kaelan Shamseldin each notched a single free throw to push the lead out to 31-29 at the break, but things seemed set up for a knock-down, drag-out brawl in the second half.

Except only one team came out ready to go in the third quarter.

Whitman struck fast and it struck hard, clamping down on defense, grabbing every rebound and then pushing the ball at the hoop.

With Stone slapping home seven of her points in the quarter, including getting three the hard way on a sensational flying layup and ensuing free throw after being belted upside the head, the Blues went nuclear.

They doubled their point total, using a 31-11 explosion to reduce George Fox fans to a deafening silence.

Two stats stand out in particular.

George Fox was astonishingly bad shooting the ball Saturday, draining just 19 of 76 shots, including missing 23 of 26 tries from behind the three-point arc.

Then, when the ball skipped off the rim, the Blues dominated, pulling down 53 rebounds with Maegan Martin (12) and Stone (11) playing the role of twin titans.

The duo were a powerful one-two combo, both scoring 17 points apiece, while Mady Burdett popped for 13.

Stone added three assists and a steal to her stat line, and, for once, wasn’t picked on by road refs, not whistled for her first foul until the fourth quarter.

On the season, the former Wolf star, who leads Whitman in most major stat categories, has 245 points, 138 rebounds, 25 assists, 20 steals and 17 blocks.

She’s shooting 104-199 from the field and 37-49 at the charity stripe.

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   Makana Stone scored 16 points Saturday, but Whitman’s 21-game winning streak was snapped by George Fox. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It was nice while it lasted.

Despite a 16-point, seven-rebound performance Saturday from Coupeville grad Makana Stone, the Whitman College women’s basketball squad lost for the first time in nearly three months.

Unable to recover from a late-game run by host George Fox University, the Blues fell 80-68, snapping their 21-game winning streak.

Whitman, now 13-1 in Northwest Conference play, 21-2 overall, hadn’t lost since its season opener way back on Nov. 15.

With the win, George Fox (13-1, 20-3) earned a season split with the Blues, garnered revenge for a loss in mid-Jan. and moved into a first-place tie.

Both teams have two regular-season games remaining next weekend.

Whitman hosts Willamette University (10-4) Friday and Linfield College (5-9) Saturday while George Fox hosts Lewis & Clark College (8-6) and Pacific University (3-11).

While they’re still fighting for the league title, Whitman and George Fox have clinched the top two slots and will host the league’s postseason tourney semifinal games Feb. 22.

Saturday’s battle royal came down to free throws (George Fox made 29 to Whitman’s 14), foul trouble for the Blues and one decisive fourth-quarter surge by the host squad.

After battling back from eight points down at the first break, Whitman regained the lead in the third quarter behind Stone.

The former Wolf had been locked to the bench for much of the first half after picking up two fouls, but the sophomore sensation came flying out of the halftime locker room to throw down eight points in the third quarter.

The game was still up for grabs with George Fox clinging to a 61-60 lead with seven minutes to play, but then every Whitman player not wearing #23 (Stone’s number) went ice-cold from the field.

The Bruins, taking full advantage of numerous trips to the free throw line, went on a 19-6 surge, with Stone the only Blue able to score.

With her 16-point performance, Stone passed two milestones — 300 points on the season and 500 for her career.

She sits with 306 and 514 respectively, with a first-quarter put-back off of an offensive rebound the bucket which gave her the second mark.

On the season, she’s Whitman’s second-leading scorer and top rebounder (160), while also having compiled 43 assists, four blocks and 16 steals.

Stone is shooting 55% from the floor (130 of 236) and 78% from the line (46-59).

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   Wolf grad Makana Stone tossed in 20 points and hauled down 10 boards Friday in a crucial win for Whitman. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

If the season comes down to one rebound, start writing thank you notes to Makana Stone.

The Coupeville grad pulled in her tenth and final board Friday with just 15 seconds to play, sealing a nail-biter win for Whitman College in a game with sole possession of first-place in the Northwest Conference on the line.

Stone’s rebound came with the Blues clinging to a two-point lead, and four free throws from Casey Poe later, Whitman had bounced visiting George Fox 77-71.

With their 14th straight win in hand, the Blues rise to 6-0 in league play, 14-1 overall, while George Fox slips to 4-1, 11-3.

Whitman took the battle for league supremacy in large part because it had the two most dangerous players on the court in Poe and Stone.

The All-American senior netted a game-high 29, including two free throws with 10 seconds to play, and then two more freebies with a single tick on the clock.

Poe added five assists, five steals and four blocks as she controlled every aspect of the floor.

Right on her tail came the sophomore sensation from Cow Town, as Stone rattled the rim for 20 points to go with her 10 rebounds. She also made off with a pair of steals.

Whitman, ranked #4 in D-III basketball, led from start to finish, but couldn’t quite pull away from the #25 Bruins.

With Poe (11) and Stone (6) combining for 17 first-quarter points, the Blues stormed out to a 21-12 lead at the first break, only to see George Fox trim it back to five at the half.

The lead hovered in the 7-9 point range through much of the second half, until a late fourth-quarter comeback roused the visitor’s hopes.

Kaitlin Jamieson slashed to the hoop for a layup with 2:33 to play, cutting Whitman’s lead to 72-71, and the home fans went pale in the face.

But never fear, as the Blues defense proved to be the real MVP, holding the Bruins scoreless the rest of the way.

Helping matters was four consecutive missed free throws by George Fox, a surprise since the visitors were a fairly-hot 24-31 at the charity stripe up to that point.

Whitman was on point at the line, hitting 28-34. Poe (13-14) and Stone (6-7) led the way there, as well.

Clinging to the one-point lead, the Blues got a big rebound from Stone, then a solitary free throw from Emily Rommel to push the margin to 73-71.

That set up the pressure-packed final 20 seconds.

The Blues went for the dagger, but sharp-shooting frosh Kaelan Shamseldin clanked a three-ball.

At which point Stone out-jumped the world for the rebound, then promptly fed Poe, who held on to the ball, absorbed the abuse of the quickly-arriving foul and did what she does best — ice games.

Whitman is now off for six days, returning to action next weekend when it travels to Oregon to play at Linfield Friday and Willamette Saturday.

After a strong freshman season in which she quickly became a starter for a team which went all the way to the Elite Eight, Stone has taken her game to another level as a sophomore.

She has 207 points, 98 rebounds, 31 assists and 11 steals, and is shooting 58% from the field (89-153) and 76% from the line (29-38).

Stone tops the team in rebounding and field goal percentage, while trailing Poe by just eight points in the team scoring race.

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