Whitworth men hold Off Pacific 91-78

Whitworth comes up short, bows out of NCAA Tournament

SPOKANE, Wash. – After opening an 18-point halftime lead, the Whitworth Pirates finished with a 91-78 win over visiting Pacific University in a Northwest Conference men’s basketball game on Friday night at the Whitworth Fieldhouse.

Whitworth (18-4 overall, 12-1 NWC) claimed its sixth straight win and remains tied atop the NWC standings with Whitman.

Sam Lees scored 14 of his game-high 16 points in the second half and Garrett Hull posted his fourth double-double of the season for the Pirates.

Whitworth never trailed, running out to a 12-3 lead at the first media timeout thanks to three-pointers by Ben College and Hull.  A Liam Fitzgerald three increased the margin to 20-7.  After the Boxers (6-16, 3-10) pulled within 33-24 on a three-pointer by Jared Cattell, the Pirates went on a 13-3 run to open a 46-27 lead on Rowan Anderson’s basket with just under three minutes to play in the half.  Kea Vargas scored seven points in the run.  Whitworth took a 49-31 lead to the locker rooms, thanks to 60% shooting (18-30) from the field, including 53% (8-15) from three-point range.

The Pirates converted a steal into a Hull layup just over a minute into the second half to open its largest margin at 54-33.  Trailing 58-38 with 16:34 to go, Pacific used a 10-0 run to get within 58-48 on John Rigatti’s three-point play.  The Boxers pulled within 62-54 and were at the free throw line with a chance to cut the margin to six points, but after a missed free throw the Pirates were able to build their lead back to 71-57 on another Vargas basket.  Whitworth never led by less than double digits the rest of the way, despite finishing 1-11 from three-point range in the second period.

The Pirates had four players in double figures, with two others at nine points and one more at eight in the balanced scoring effort. Lees only had two points at halftime after getting two fouls and playing only four minutes.  But he scored six baskets in the second half and tied for game-high honors.  Hull posted 15 points and 11 boards for his team-leading fourth double-double.  Vargas came off the bench for a career-high 11 points, while Liam Fitzgerald finished with 10 points, five rebounds and five assists.  Chewey Zevenbergen finished 9-11 at the free throw line to score nine points to go along with seven boards.  The Pirates ended the game with a 48-23 lead in rebounding, including a 17-6 edge in offensive boards.

Colin Rardin led Pacific with 16 points and three assists.  Brennan McNabb added 14 points and Nick Drynan finished with 13.  The Boxers forced 20 Whitworth turnovers in the game.

Whitworth swept the season series against Pacific and has won the last seven games in the series.

Three Pirate seniors will be honored prior to the tip off of Saturday’s game against George Fox.