NEWBERG, Ore. – Ben Bishop had 14 points and six rebounds to lead a balanced attack as Whitworth University opened the 2018-19 men's basketball season with a 75-55 win over St. Olaf College at the Bruin Classic on Friday afternoon.
The Pirates, ranked sixth in the D3hoops.com preseason poll, won their sixth consecutive season-opening game. The Oles, ranked 23rd in the D3hoops.com poll, dropped to 0-3 against a difficult early-season schedule.
Bishop scored the first six points of the game and Whitworth never trailed. After St. Olaf got within 14-12 on Travis Fauchald's three-pointer eight minutes into the contest, the Pirates went on a 13-0 run to generate a double-digit lead. Jordan Lester's layup capped the run and gave the Bucs a 27-12 advantage. Whitworth took a 38-20 lead at halftime on Jared Christy's put-back basket off a missed free throw.
The Oles were able to cut the margin to 52-39 eight minutes into the second half when Fauchald drained another three pointer. The Pirates answered with a 7-2 run, including a Ben College three-pointer, to extend the margin back to 59-41. St. Olaf never seriously threatened again.
Christy and College scored 11 points each to join Bishop in double figures. Christy added a game-high 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. Kyle Roach led the Bucs with four assists. Whitworth shot 56% (27-49) from the field, including 43% (6-14) from three-point range after missing their first five three-point attempts. The Pirates outrebounded the Oles 43-26.
Bledsoe scored a game-high 15 points for St. Olaf, while Austin Korba added 11 points and four rebounds. The Oles shot only 34% (18-53) from the field and 27% (6-22) from beyond the arc.
Whitworth will conclude the Bruin Classic on Saturday against Whittier College at 1:00 pm.