Whitworth Holds Off Pacific 63-58

Whitworth Holds Off Pacific 63-58

FOREST GROVE, Ore. – In a game that could not have played out more differently than the first meeting of the year between the teams, visiting Whitworth avenged an early-season loss to Pacific University with a 63-58 victory on Saturday night.

The 8th-ranked Pirates improved to 18-3 overall and 9-3 in the Northwest Conference by holding the Boxers (9-11 overall, 3-9 NWC) to only 3-22 from three-point range (13.6%).  That was a far cry from the hot three-point shooting Pacific used to knock off Whitworth 90-88 on January 6th in an offensive shootout.

Yet the Pirates had a hard time putting Pacific away after building a 14-point lead in the second half.  Derek Isaak hit a pair of three-pointers from the corner in the final two minutes to keep the Boxers at bay.  While Pacific struggled from three-point range, Whitworth went 8-13 (61.5%) from beyond the arc.

JB Ewell's jumper gave the Boxers an 11-10 lead just over five minutes into the game.  It would be Pacific's final lead as Whitworth ran off a 10-0 run.  Kyle Roach scored the final two baskets of the rally.  The Boxers rallied back to within 24-23 after another basket by Ewell, but Whitworth answered with a 14-1 run to open a 38-24 lead late in the first period.  The Pirates took a 38-27 lead into halftime.

Whitworth kept the lead at around ten points for the first ten minutes of the second half.  Benny Nick made one of two free throws to give the Pirates another 14-point lead at 52-38 with 9:30 to play in the game.  But the Whitworth offense struggled down the stretch as the Pirates committed 14 second half turnovers.  Whitworth scored only three points for the next seven minutes and the Boxers pulled to within 55-49 before Isaak hit the first of his two big three-pointers with just over two minutes left.  Pacific then pulled within 58-54 when Isaak struck again for three with just under a minute to play. 

Isaak led the Pirates with 13 points, finishing 4-4 from beyond the arc.  Roach scored a dozen and Christian Jurlina added 10.  CJ Johnson led Whitworth with seven rebounds and Kenny Love dished four assists.  Whitworth shot 22-45 (49%) from the field, but uncharacteristically struggled at the free throw line (11-20, 55%).

Ewell scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed eight boards for Pacific. While he went 9-16 from the field, the rest of the squad made only 12 of 39 shots against the Pirates' defense.  Nate Olowo added 13 points.

Whitworth will continue a four-game road stretch next weekend with games at Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound.