Thursday, March 3, 2005

Whitman Women’s Basketball Team
Places Three on All-NWC Squad

WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Three members of the Whitman College women’s basketball team have earned post-season all-conference honors.

Lizzy Washburn, a 5-foot-9 junior forward from Mundelein, Ill., was named to the All-Northwest Conference Second Team. Two junior guards, Laura Vertatschitsch (Issaquah, Wash.) and Megan Higgins (Colorado Springs, Colo.), received Honorable Mention recognition.

Despite a debilitating staph infection that developed in her right elbow in early January, Washburn finished the season ranked in the top 10 in the conference in both scoring and rebounding. She led Whitman in both statistical categories, averaging 14.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. She also made 125 of 231 her field goal attempts during the season, a 54.1 percent shooting percentage that was third-best in the conference. She was No. 4 in the NWC in steals, averaging 2.2 thefts per game.

Washburn enjoyed a superlative month of December, earning MVP honors at Whitman’s Bon Appetit Classic and making the all-tourney teams at two other weekend tournaments. She was named NWC Player of the Week in early December, in part because of a career-high 28 points she scored in a victory over Northwest College. She made 11 of 12 shots from the floor in that game, in addition to grabbing seven rebounds and four steals.

Washburn had two double-doubles during the season, including a 22-point, 10-rebound effort in a 62-50 victory at George Fox, the eventual conference champion. She fell one rebound short of three other double-doubles.

“Lizzy had a terrific season,” Whitman coach Michelle Ferenz said. “She is such a tough competitor and really had some huge games for us despite battling the severe staph infection for most of January. No player works harder than Lizzy, so it’s exciting to see her receive all-conference recognition.”

Washburn, a mathematics major who carried a 3.798 cumulative grade point average into the spring semester, also received Second Team honors on ESPN The Magazine’s Academic All-District Team. She was named in the College Division, which represents all NAIA and NCAA Div. II and Div. III teams in nine western states and British Columbia.

Vertatschitsch, a 5-foot-7 shooting guard who played at Issaquah High School, earned Honorable Mention recognition for a second consecutive season. She was Whitman’s second-leading scorer, averaging 10.2 points along with 2.4 assists per game. Her best game of the season came in a 94-47 drubbing of Pacific, when she scored 20 points while making eight of 12 shots from the floor, including four of six from the three-point arc.

“Laura had another solid year for us,” Ferenz said. “She is the kind of player that can have a great game on any given night. She has been and continues to be a great spark for us, both offensively and defensively.”

Higgins, a 5-foot-6 point guard who played her prep ball at the Air Force Academy High School, led the NWC in assists this season, averaging 4.88 per game. She was Whitman’s second-leading rebounder, averaging 4.9 rebounds per game, while also scoring 7.0 points per night.

“Megan had a very good season running our offense and distributing the basketball,” Ferenz said. “She has developed into an excellent point guard and team leader.”

Higgins had her best night as a point guard in a 67-65 victory over Lewis & Clark. She nearly posted a triple double on her own, combining 11 points with nine assists and eight rebounds, but she also ran a balanced offense that saw four of her teammates score between 11 and 13 points.


Dave Holden, Whitman Sports Information,
(509) 527-5902;