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   Makana Stone capped her sophomore season at Whitman Friday, tossing in six points and grabbing seven rebounds in a playoff loss. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The dream died at the free throw line.

East Texas Baptist University scored the game’s final seven points on charity shots Friday, turning a one-point deficit into a 65-59 win over Whitman College.

The loss, coming in a first round game at the NCAA D-III women’s national championship tourney in Richardson, Texas, ended the season for the Blues and their stellar sophomore, Makana Stone.

The Coupeville grad went for six points, seven boards and two assists, including a gorgeous pass to set up Emily Rommel for a key bucket in the final two minutes.

Snagging a pass deep in the paint, Stone shoveled the ball under the defense to her senior running mate, who knocked down a bank shot to knot the game at 58-58.

When senior Casey Poe drained a free throw at the 1:22 mark, Whitman took its final lead, but couldn’t hold on.

Unable to net a field goal in the final minute and 45 seconds, and unable to score at all after Poe’s free throw, the Blues had to foul, and East Texas made them pay.

Erin Meeks, who entered the night shooting an ice-cold 44% from the free throw line, netted four straight in the final minute, giving her a season-best 7-8 performance at the stripe.

Add two freebies each for Madison McCoy and Kim Childress, and the Tigers (23-6) advanced to play in the regional final Saturday night.

Whitman, which made a run to the Elite Eight last season, closed at 22-5.

After ripping off 21 straight wins at one point this season, the Blues struggled down the stretch, losing four of their final five games.

Poe, the Northwest Conference player of the year, had a very off night Friday, with her only point being her late-game free throw.

She averaged 17 a night during the season.

Making up for things a bit was sophomore Mady Burdett, who knocked down four balls from behind the three-point arc in the first quarter alone.

She finished with eight treys, helping Whitman hold a 9-0 advantage in that shooting category, and scored a college career-high 24 points.

While the Blues were hot from the outside, East Texas went inside time and again, and ended with a staggering advantage at the free throw line.

The Tigers netted 23-26 at the stripe, while Whitman was 6-10.

The game was a prime slice of March Madness, as the teams exchanged leads for much of the night.

Up 19-17 after one quarter (Stone fed Maegan Martin for the three-points-the-hard-way play which gave Whitman the lead), the Blues stretched it to 33-27 at halftime.

East Texas, with the support of the local crowd, surged 19-13 in the third quarter to knot the game at 46-46 headed into the final quarter.

Twice the Tigers started to threaten to pull away and twice Burdett dropped treys to get Whitman back in things, before she and her teammates went cold at the end.

The game closed a very strong season for Coupeville’s finest, as Stone finished with 332 points, 194 rebounds, 52 assists, five blocks and 18 steals.

She shot a very-strong 51.2% from the floor (140-273) and 76.5% from the line (52-68).

A First-Team All-Conference pick this year, she was Whitman’s #1 rebounder and #2 scorer.

Whitman, which loses captains Poe, Rommel and Sierra McGarity to graduation, has gone 48-10 during Stone’s first two seasons.

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   Makana Stone went for nine points and 10 rebounds Thursday, but Whitman fell in a playoff game. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Agony.

It’s what the Whitman College women’s basketball squad endured for much of Thursday, and what the Blues now face as they wait for a probable call from the NCAA.

Despite rallying in the final two minutes of its Northwest Conference Tournament semifinal game to finally take the lead, Whitman could only watch in horror as visiting Willamette responded by tossing in a game-winning three-ball in the final seconds.

The 55-52 loss, the third defeat in four games for the once high-flying Blues, drops them to 22-4.

Long gone is its 21-game win streak, and now Whitman has to wait until Monday to find out if it lands an at-large berth in the NCAA D-III women’s national tourney.

The Blues, who made it to the Elite Eight last season, are a strong contender, but would have preferred getting an automatic bid by winning the league’s postseason title.

Instead, that golden ticket awaits either Willamette (17-9) or George Fox (23-3), who play Saturday in the title game.

Thursday’s loss, the second straight to the Bearcats, was similar to the Blues defeat at the hands of Willamette six days ago.

In short, ice-cold shooting killed Whitman.

The Blues opened 7-30 from the floor in the first half, fell behind by 10 points, and never really heated up.

In the end, Whitman finished 21-63 from the floor, including just 2-11 from behind the three-point arc.

Willamette was 8-16 on three-balls, the difference in a game which came down to the final seconds.

Trailing for much of the game, Whitman stormed back, seemingly pulling a victory from the jaws of defeat.

Down 50-44 with 1:53 to play, the Blues used aggressive defense, then turned Willamette’s turnovers into an 8-0 run in the matter of just 37 seconds.

The Bearcats didn’t blink, however, holding Whitman scoreless over the final 76 seconds.

A Drew Farmer jumper — her only points of the night — tied the game at 52, before Ashley Evans buried the game-deciding three-ball with 20 ticks on the clock.

Whitman couldn’t get the equalizer, then committed a violation while trying to in-bound the ball for a final shot with 2.8 seconds to play.

The loss obscured another solid performance for Coupeville grad Makana Stone, who went for nine points, 10 rebounds and two assists.

Casey Poe paced the Blues with 16, while Taylor Chambers added 15. Willamette was led by Kylie Towry, who knocked down a game-high 21.

For the season, Stone, a sophomore, has 326 points, 187 rebounds, 50 assists, five blocks and 18 steals.

She’s shooting 52% from the floor (138-264) and 77% from the free-throw line (50-65).

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   Whitman College sophomore Makana Stone earned First-Team All-Northwest Conference honors when league coaches voted. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

She’s a bright, shining star.

Coupeville grad Makana Stone, a two-time Olympic League basketball MVP during her high school days, continues to soar on the college hardwood.

Tuesday she was named a First-Team All-Northwest Conference player when league coaches tallied up their votes.

Stone, a sophomore at Whitman College, joins senior Casey Poe, who was honored as the league’s Player of the Year.

It’s the third time in five seasons that the Whitman women have claimed the top honor, after Heather Johns won for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 campaigns.

Poe, who is first in the league in free-throw percentage, second in scoring, third in blocks, fourth in assists and sixth in steals, was also an All-Conference pick as a junior.

Stone, who became a full-time starter midway through her freshman season, has been a beast in her second year in Walla Walla.

The former Wolf leads the Blues in rebounding and is second in scoring.

She is fourth in the NWC in field goal percentage, fifth in rebounding and 10th in scoring.

Stone was tabbed as the NWC student/athlete of the week twice this season, and copped MVP honors at the Whitworth Holiday Classic.

She was also named to the All-Tournament team at the Ramada at the Spokane Airport Whit Classic.

Joining Stone as First-Team picks are Kylie Towry (Willamette), Miyah Lewis (Lewis & Clark), Jamie Lange (Puget Sound) and Kaitlin Jamieson (George Fox).

Camy Aguinaldo of Whitworth was tabbed as the Freshman of the Year and Peg Swadener of Willamette was honored as Coach of the Year.

Whitman, which sits at 22-3, opens the NWC postseason tourney Thursday when it hosts Willamette. Win there and the Blues advance to the title game Feb. 24 against either George Fox or Lewis & Clark.

After that likely comes the NCAA D-III women’s national tourney, where Whitman made a run to the Elite Eight during Stone’s freshman season.

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   Sophomore Makana Stone went for nine points and nine rebounds Saturday as Whitman won on Senior Night. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They found their way back.

Rescuing what could have been a lost weekend, the Whitman College women’s basketball team exploded in the second-half Saturday to bury visiting Linfield.

Rallying from a five-point halftime deficit, while All-American Casey Poe suffered through a 2-11 shooting night, the Blues poured in 54 points after the break, nabbing an 82-71 win.

The victory, coming in the regular-season finale, snaps a two-game skid and lifts Whitman to 14-2 in Northwest Conference play, 22-3 overall.

The Blues, busy with their own game, didn’t know about it at the time, but they also came within a play of earning a share of the league title.

That slipped away however, when George Fox gunner Haylee Hutzler sank two free throws with five seconds to go in Newberg, OR, helping the Bruins nip Pacific 60-59.

Avoiding what would have been a monumental upset, George Fox (15-1, 22-3) enters the four-team NWC tourney seeded #1 and will host #4 Lewis & Clark (9-7, 14-11) Feb. 22.

#2 Whitman hosts #3 Willamette (12-4, 16-9) the same night, with the winners playing for the title Feb. 24 on the home court of the highest-surviving seed.

Back-to-back losses to George Fox and Willamette, the latter coming less than 24 hours ago, derailed what had been a 21-game winning streak for the Blues.

Cold shooting was a huge liability Friday, and things didn’t look much better as the early moments of Saturday’s match-up played out.

Poe opened 0-3 from the floor, picked up two quick fouls and spent almost the entire first half on the bench.

While Coupeville grad Makana Stone was a beast on the boards, hauling down five caroms in the opening minutes, her team could not get a shot to drop.

Still, despite shooting just 3-14 in the first 10 minutes, Whitman only trailed 13-12 at the first break.

Playing without Poe, the Blues hung tough in the second quarter, but a three-ball with five seconds to play from Paige Graham staked Linfield to a 33-28 bulge at the half.

Whatever was said in the locker room quickly bore fruit, however, as Whitman more than doubled its point total with a 31-19 surge in the third.

From there the Blues ruthlessly pushed the lead out to as many as 16, before coasting in for the win.

While it was Senior Night, with Whitman honoring Poe, Emily Rommel and Sierra McGarity, the star of the game was freshman Taylor Chambers, who poured in 16 of her game-high 24 in the second half.

Rommel added 15, while Stone racked up nine points, nine boards, four assists, two steals and a block before blind refs fouled her out in the game’s final 90 seconds.

For the season, she has 317 points (#2 on the team), 177 rebounds (#1), 48 assists, five blocks and 18 steals.

Stone is shooting 53% from the floor (135-254) and 77% from the free-throw line (47-61).

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   Makana Stone netted a game-high eight rebounds Friday in a tough loss to Willamette. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Britanny Kochenderfer just drove a huge spike through the hearts of Whitman College women’s basketball fans.

The Willamette University junior, who entered play Friday shooting 39.2% on the season, got red-hot and may have shot the Blues out of being league champs.

With Kochenderfer raining down 24 points, on 9-12 shooting, including 3-3 from behind the arc, the visiting Bearcats shocked a cold-shooting Whitman squad 62-55.

The loss, the second-straight for the Blues after they put together a 21-game winning streak, drops Whitman to 13-2 in Northwest Conference play, 21-3 overall.

The news gets worse for Whitman, as their biggest rival, George Fox, took care of business Friday, shredding Lewis & Clark 81-58.

With the win, the Bruins move to 14-1, go a game up on Whitman with one to play and clinch at least a tie for the league title.

The Blues, who split two games with George Fox, need a perfect finale Saturday to gain part of the regular-season league title.

Whitman needs to bounce Linfield (5-10, 9-15), while hoping Pacific (4-11, 5-18) can somehow pull off a miracle against George Fox (14-1, 21-3).

Regardless of whether they finish first or second, the Blues host a playoff game Feb. 22 in Walla Walla.

The top four teams in the nine-team league advance to the postseason, with the winners in the semis facing off Feb. 24 in the title game.

If Whitman is the #2 seed, they get a rematch with Willamette (11-4, 15-9), which is locked in to the #3 seed.

George Fox, at #1, would face either Lewis & Clark (8-7, 13-11) or Puget Sound (7-8, 12-12), which play Saturday for the #4 seed.

After that comes the NCAA D-III women’s national tourney, where Whitman made it to the Elite Eight a season ago.

Friday night, the Blues could not get the ball to stay in the basket, shooting an icy 30% from the floor in the first half.

With their big two, senior All-American Casey Poe and sophomore Makana Stone, a combined 2-14 at the break, and Willamette torching the nets to a 56% tune, Whitman trailed 34-24.

Things got slightly better in the second half, as the shooting numbers finished at 50%-36%, but that wasn’t a big enough change for Whitman to make any huge rallies.

Every time the Blues made a mini-run, such as cutting the lead back to seven headed into the fourth, Willamette responded.

The Bearcats opened the fourth quarter with a 6-0 surge, while holding the Blues scoreless for five minutes-plus, and led 57-44 with 4:53 to play.

Whitman closed the game on an 11-5 run, but could never quite get over the hump.

Stone, the former Coupeville star, hauled down a game-high eight rebounds but was held to a season-low two points.

Heading into the regular-season finale Saturday, she is Whitman’s #2 scorer (308 points) and #1 rebounder (168 boards), while also dishing out 44 assists, rejecting four shots and making off with 16 steals.

Stone is shooting 53% from the floor (131-247) and 78% from the free-throw line (46-59) this season.

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