WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Whitworth University shot above 50% from the field and from three-point range but still had trouble shaking pesky Buena Vista University in a 90-80 men's basketball victory on Friday evening at the Comfort Inn Classic hosted by Whitman College.
The 8th-ranked Pirates improved to 9-1 behind five players who reached double figures in scoring. Kenny Love totaled 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists to lead the effort.
Buena Vista (6-5) never led once in the game and the contest was tied for only a minute and 40 seconds. Whitworth led by as many as 16 points in each half, but the Beavers continued to fight back throughout the game.
Derek Isaak drained three early three-pointers to help stake the Pirates to a 22-9 lead. BV closed to within 25-20 with just under nine minutes left in the first period before Whitworth used a 13-2 run to open a 38-22 margin. The Beavers were able to claw back to within 44-35 at the break. Isaak's nine points led the Pirates in the first half.
After Whitworth took a 53-42 lead on another Isaak three-pointer, Buena Vista rallied to within 54-49 after a basket by Connor Winkleman. When Thomas Wisecup hit a three-pointer to pull the Beavers to within 60-57, it was as close as BV had been since the opening minutes.
But Whitworth regrouped and began to steadily pull away. A pair of Kyle Roach free throws extended the margin to 75-64 and a Drew Sears jump hook gave the Bucs an 81-65 lead with five minutes to play.
Isaak was joined at 15 points by Christian Jurlina, who led the Pirates with eight rebounds. Sears totaled 14 points and Roach added 11 points. Jurlina and Roach joined Love with five assists apiece. Whitworth totaled 19 assists in the game as the Pirates shot 55.6% (30-54) from the floor and 52.4% (11-21) from beyond the arc. The Bucs were also 19-22 (86.4%) from the free throw line.
Wisecup led the Beavers with 17 points, six boards and four assists. Kennedy Drey scored 13 points as Buena Vista shot 40.9% (27-66) from the floor and 33.3% (8-24) from three-point range.
Whitworth will finish out the Comfort Inn Classic with a game against Crown College (3-7) on Saturday at 1:00 pm.