TACOMA – The Whitworth men’s basketball team can lay claim to being the only team this season to go on the road and defeat the University of Puget Sound.
That overtime victory came one week ago when the Pirates knocked off the Loggers in the Northwest Conference tournament finals.
UPS, however, only had to wait seven days before getting some revenge as the Loggers beat the Pirates 84-72 in the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament Saturday night at Memorial Fieldhouse.
Jason Foster, the NWC player of the year, grabbed 12 rebounds and scored 27 points, going 15 for 16 from the free-throw line for the Loggers (25-3), while teammate Austin Boyce chipped in 21 points on 10-of-11 accuracy from the field.
“There are no excuses,” Whitworth coach Jim Hayford said, “UPS just plain beat us.”
David Riley paced the Pirates (23-6) with a team-high 27 points, going 4 for 8 from beyond the 3-point line.
Whitworth also received 18 points from Nate Montgomery and 12 from senior Ross Nakamura.
An aggressive, attacking offense helped the Loggers turn a close contest into a double-digit win as UPS converted 21 of 25 offensive possessions into points during a 14-minute span in the second half.
Holding a 42-41 lead with 15 minutes, 22 seconds to play, UPS outscored Whitworth 41-27 over the game-deciding stretch to put the game away, relying mostly on the inside play of Foster and Boyce.
“It was a game of runs,” said Nakamura, whose field goal with 31/2 minutes remaining got the Pirates within seven points at 71-64. “They just more than we did toward the end.”
Not only did the Pirates have to deal with foul trouble, the team also dealt with an injury, which caused a shuffle in the lineup.
Starting forward Calvin Jurich suffered a torn MCL in his left knee during Thursday’s opening-round victory over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
The senior still played, logging 18 minutes while sporting a heavy brace, but Hayford was forced to juggle his rotation, something he stated could have caused some matchup problems for his team.
“We had to play some different combinations,” said Hayford, whose team was outscored 46-28 in the paint. “That took us out of some of our rhythm. I think we only had 10 minutes with (Jurich) and Nate on the court together at the same time. UPS exploited some of those mismatches.”
The Loggers led 33-29 at the half as both teams shot 42.3 percent (11 for 26) from the field.
Boyce had the hot hand early for UPS, hitting his first five shots, while teammate Foster nearly had a double-double at the intermission despite failing to sink a basket.
Foster, who grabbed eight rebounds in the first half, missed both his field-goal attempts, but sank all 10 of his free throws.
“Foster showed why he was player of the year in our conference tonight,” Hayford said. “He was lights out from the line and Boyce took 10 shots all within 5 feet of the basket. They attacked on offense and kept us off the offensive boards, which is a big part of our game plan.”