SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitworth University used balanced scoring and stifling defense to defeat visiting Willamette University 77-55 in a Northwest Conference men's basketball game on Friday night in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.
The sixth-ranked Pirates bounced back from Tuesday's loss to #2 Whitman and improved to 16-3 overall and 7-3 in the NWC. The Bucs did it by limiting the Bearcats (3-15 overall, 1-8 NWC) to 33% (19-58) shooting from the field and only 26% (5-19) from beyond the arc.
"It was great to get on the floor again," said Whitworth head coach Matt Logie. "We executed well defensively and forced some tough shots. It was good to get out here, have some success and continue to grow."
Willamette took its only lead when CJ Walker scored the first basket 35 seconds into the game. Whitworth answered with a 7-2 run, including a three-pointer by Ben College, and never trailed again. Leading 7-6, the Pirates went on a 12-0 run to open their first double-digit lead less than ten minutes into the game. The Bucs led by as many as 19 points (34-15) in the first half and took a 39-21 lead into halftime.
The Whitworth defense was especially stiff in the first 20 minutes, holding Willamette to 7 of 25 (28%) shooting from the field, including 0-6 from beyond the arc. College led the Pirates with 8 points in the first half.
Whitworth put the game away early in the second half, outscoring the Bearcats 6-0 over the first two minutes to increase the lead to 45-21. The Pirates took their largest lead of the game 68-40 on a pair of Kyle Roach free throws with just under ten minutes to play.
Four Pirates scored in double figures, led by College and Christian Jurlina, who had 11 apiece. Roach and Derek Isaak each contributed ten points. Roach also led Whitworth with seven rebounds and six assists. The Pirates finished the game 28-57 (49%) from the field and 7-16 (44%) from three-point range. But Whitworth spent much of the night above 50% in both categories as the Bucs finished with 18 assists on their 28 baskets.
Casey Thornton came off of the bench to lead Willamette with ten points. He was the only Bearcat player in double figures. Jordan Jenkins led the visitors with six rebounds.
Whitworth will return to action on February 3rd at Linfield College.