This is the story of Jim Hayford and the three Bears.
With a starting lineup that featured three Brewster graduates, the Whitworth Pirates opened the 2010-11 men’s basketball season with an impressive, 74-50 win over Loras College from Dubuque, Iowa.
It was the first time Whitworth opened its season at home since 2002 and the Pirates ran their home-court winning streak to 23 games.
Senior David Riley, a two-time All-Northwest Conference first-team selection, led the way with a 20-point effort, but it was the Whitworth defense that proved most impressive.
“We’ve been banging on each other for so long it was just good to play someone else,” Riley said. “It feels good to get off to a good start like this. We have two really strong home games to open up with (including Monday night’s game with Trinity University).”
The Pirates limited the Duhawks to 35.6 percent shooting from the floor (16 of 45) while forcing 14 turnovers, collecting a half-dozen steals and blocking three shots.
Brothers Clay and Wade Gebbers were joined in the starting lineup by their cousin, senior transfer Michael Taylor, all products of the small-school powerhouse Bears. Together they gave the Pirates defense plenty of bite.
A smiling Hayford, now just 10 victories away from his 200th in his 10th season at Whitworth, was pleased with the effort on both ends of the floor.
“Let me put it this way, I love our offense and I love our defense,” he laughed when asked which he preferred on opening night. “It’s like trying to choose between your son and your daughter.”
Looking to qualify for the NCAA Division III tournament for the fifth consecutive year, the Bucs set the tone early. Riley connected on 4 of 8 from behind the 3-point line and had 16 first-half points. Meanwhile, the Whitworth defense limited the Duhawks to just 22 points on 26 percent shooting from the floor.
Taylor, who played a team-high 35 minutes, finished with 16 points in his first game as a Pirate, connecting on 6 of 9 shots from the floor, 2 of 3 from long range. Junior Jack Loofburrow added 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
Connor Mooney and Dan Pawelski both scored 14 to lead the Duhawks.