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Makana Stone and Whitman are 12-1 after dismantling Willamette. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

One big test passed, one to go.

Paced by a 19-point, 8-rebound performance from Coupeville’s Makana Stone, the Whitman College women’s basketball team shredded visiting Willamette University 74-54 Saturday afternoon.

A matchup between two of the three previously undefeated teams in the Northwest Conference, it’s a huge boost for the Blues, who are ranked #12 in NCAA D-III play.

Now 4-0 in league, 12-1 overall, Whitman sits in a first-place tie with Pacific University (4-0, 10-3), a game up on Willamette (3-1, 9-4) atop the nine-team conference.

And that second big test? It arrives in six days.

The Blues travel to Oregon next weekend, hitting Forest Grove Friday and Newberg Saturday.

The first night will be a battle with Pacific for sole possession of first place, while the second pits Whitman against always-tough George Fox University.

Saturday’s showdown with Willamette, coming on “Bring A Girl to the Game Night,” left a ton of happy fans at the Sherwood Athletic Center in Walla Walla.

While the visiting Bearcats scored the first bucket of the game, after that it was all Whitman, all the time.

Stone helped kick off a 10-0 run by knocking down a jumper, then coming back around to make off with a steal and feed teammate Kaelan Shamseldin for an electric three-ball.

From there, the Blues never looked back and never slowed down, steadily stretching the lead out, quarter by quarter.

Up 24-12 at the first break, Whitman moved the margin to 43-24 at the half and 58-37 after three quarters of play.

Stone poured in points in all four quarters, and got plenty of backup as Mady Burdett popped for 16, Shamseldin rattled the rims for 10, and Kaylie McCracken just missed a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds.

Saturday’s performance continues a very-strong season for the former Wolf star.

On the year, Stone sit with 201 points, 110 rebounds, 16 assists, 18 steals, and 12 blocked shots.

She’s hit 81-151 (53.6%) from the field and 37-46 (80.4%) from the line.

After scoring 1,158 points during her high school career — third-best in CHS hoops history, girl or boy — Stone has poured in 1,129 during her collegiate run.

That puts her #7 all-time in Whitman women’s basketball history, just 17 points away from passing former teammate Casey Poe to claim 6th place.

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Makana Stone, here celebrating with mom Eileen, filled up the stat sheet Friday as Whitman College cruised to a big win. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Double-doubles are nice, but triple-doubles are even sweeter.

Though she didn’t quite make it all the way to Russell Westbrook territory Friday, Coupeville grad Makana Stone came dangerously close.

Tossing in 10 points, hauling down a game-high 14 rebounds and dealing out a collegiate career-best seven assists, the former Wolf sparked Whitman College women’s basketball back to its winning ways.

Bouncing back from a rare loss six days ago, the Blues shellacked host Willamette University (my mom’s alma mater) 82-59 in Salem, OR.

The blowout win lifts Whitman to 8-1 in Northwest Conference play, 14-4 overall.

It also keeps them tied with George Fox (8-1, 15-3) atop the nine-team league, with seven games left on the regular season schedule.

One of those bouts arrives Saturday, when the Blues head to Forest Grove, OR to wrap up a two-game road trip with a game against Pacific University (1-8, 7-11).

After that, they return to Walla Walla for four straight home games, including a royal rumble Feb. 8 with George Fox.

Friday night’s contest was Stone’s 75th college game, and she dominated as she has done in almost every game during her junior season.

Her double-double was her fifth in the last six games, and ninth on the season.

Stone’s 14 rebounds were double what any other player, on either team, snagged, and helped Whitman control the boards to a 42-29 tune.

Sparked by second-chance buckets galore, the Blues jumped out to a 23-15 lead after one quarter, before stretching the margin out to 47-25 by the halftime break.

After that, Whitman cruised in for the win, with four different players scoring in double figures.

Maegan Martin popped for a game-high 19, while Mady Burdett banked in 14 and Taylor Chambers ruffled the nets for 12.

On the season, Stone is sitting with 280 points, 165 rebounds, 34 assists, 22 steals, and 17 blocks.

She’s shooting 117-229 from the field and 45-57 at the free-throw line.

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Makana Stone went for a game-high 20 points and 12 rebounds Saturday, propelling Whitman College to a blowout win. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Payback, how sweet it is.

Willamette University stung Whitman College twice in the final four games last season, handing the Blues a pair of crippling losses.

Jump forward to the 2018-2019 season, and the first rematch went in a decidedly different direction.

Fueled by the game-high 20 points and 12 rebounds of Coupeville grad Makana Stone, Whitman crushed Willamette Saturday 75-33.

The win lifts the Blues to 2-0 in Northwest Conference play, leaving them in a first-place tie with Whitworth and George Fox.

Whitman is 5-2 overall, after winning for the third-straight game and fifth time in six games.

The Blues get a rest from league play after this, not facing Northwest Conference foes again until January.

They close the 2018 portion of their schedule with a pair of tournaments, the Kim Evanger Raney Classic in Walla Walla Dec. 7-8 and the UC Santa Cruz Classic in California Dec. 20-21.

Once the new year begins, Whitman returns to conference play, with its final 14 regular season clashes against league opponents.

Saturday night, the Blues savaged their Oregon-based foes, blowing out to an 11-6 lead after one quarter, before really turning up the heat with a torrid 26-7 tear in the second frame.

Stone recorded her third double-double of the season, scoring in every quarter while hitting on 9-15 shots from the floor and going a flawless 2-2 at the line.

Kaylie McCracken notched 11 points in support, while Maegan Martin tossed in 10. Brittany Kochenderfer, whose sweet shooting derailed Whitman last season, topped Willamette with 17.

Stone, who leads the Blues in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots, is off to a sizzling start in her junior season.

She currently sits with 117 points, 60 rebounds, nine assists, 11 steals and nine blocks, while shooting 50-91 from the floor and 17-22 at the free-throw line.

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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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   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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