SPOKANE, Wash. – Visiting Pacific University made a 22-4 first half run stand up for a 90-88 win at 5th-ranked Whitworth on Friday night in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.
The Boxers improved to 8-3 overall and 2-1 in the Northwest Conference and ended a 16-game losing streak to Whitworth (10-2, 1-2 NWC). Pacific earned its first win in Spokane since January 23, 2004.
Kenny Love's three-pointer gave the Pirates a 30-20 lead midway through the first period. But then the Boxers got hot, outscoring Whitworth 22-4 over the next seven minutes – including a 16-0 spurt – to grab a 42-34 lead. Pacific led by nine (45-36) after an RJ Collins three-pointer before Whitworth pulled to within 48-44 at the half. The Boxers blistered the nets by making 18 of 27 shots (66.7%) in the first half, including 7-11 (63.6%) from three-point range. They also outrebounded the Bucs 16-14, despite the fact that leading scorer and rebounder Nate Olowo did not have any points or rebounds and played only two minutes because of foul trouble.
"We got off to a great start and had their best post player on the bench in foul trouble," said Whitworth head coach Matt Logie. "But we relaxed on defense which allowed them to get hot from three-point range, which turned all the momentum in their favor."
Sparked by Kyle Roach's three-point play the Pirates opened the second half on a quick 5-0 run, taking the lead 49-48 on Benny Nick's put-back basket. But Pacific responded with seven straight points, including three-pointers by K.C. Harrison and Davis Holly. The Boxers never trailed again, reopening an eight-point lead (59-51) on a Holly layup.
Whitworth fought back to within 65-64 after another Love basket, and eventually retied the game 79-79 when Christian Jurlina drained two free throws with 3:50 to play. But J.J. Spitler's basket extended Pacific's lead back to 85-80 with just under two minutes to go and the Boxers were able to hold on down the stretch. Leading 90-88 with four seconds left, Christopher Evans had a chance to ice the game at the free throw line for Pacific, but he missed both attempts. Kenny Love got the rebound and moved up court for a potential winning or tying shot. But as he crossed midcourt he lost possession of the ball and time expired.
Love scored a season-high 27 points to lead all players in the game. Roach added 21 and Jurlina finished with 13. Drew Sears had 11 points in only 15 minutes because of foul trouble. He also led the Bucs with eight boards. Whitworth finished the game with a field goal percentage of 44.3 (27-61), including 33.3% (7-21) from three-point range. The Pirates picked up the rebounding in the second half, finishing with a 39-37 edge on the boards.
Six players reached double figures for Pacific, led by Spitler's 15 points off of the bench. Lane Jose added 14 points, Davis scored 13 and Harrison finished with 12. Michael Joseph grabbed 10 rebounds. Pacific cooled off in the second half, but still finished 30-60 (50%) from the field and 9-16 (56.3%) from beyond the arc. Most important, the Boxers committed only one turnover in the second half after having 11 in the first period.
It was a physical, sometimes ugly, contest. There were 52 combined fouls and seven players fouled out of the game. Whitworth lost Sears, Nick and Ben Bishop. Pacific lost J.B. Ewell, Olowo, Joseph and Collins.
Whitworth will have to bounce back quickly as the Pirates host Linfield College on Saturday (6:00 pm). Pacific travels to play at 2nd-ranked Whitman.