Whitworth University’s first-half performance against Northwest Conference rival George Fox didn’t seem all that bad Saturday night.
Unless one compared it to the way the eighth-ranked Pirates played in the second half.
After building a modest nine-point lead in the opening 20 minutes, Whitworth came out in the second half and scored 10 unanswered points as part of a 34-5 run that spanned intermission and powered the Bucs to a lopsided 75-48 win in front of a Whitworth Fieldhouse crowd of 1,060.
Idris Lasisi finished with a game-high 23 points and eight rebounds, Felix Friedt added 15 points and seven boards and Jack Loofburrow contributed 12 points – all in the second half – as Whitworth (6-0 overall, 2-0 NWC) blew away the Bruins (2-4, 1-1) and gave itself a chance to climb even higher in this week’s D3hoops.com poll.
“I felt we came out with more intensity on the defensive end after halftime and were able to get some momentum, offensively, from that,” Pirates coach Matt Logie said, after watching his team outscore the Bruins 39-21 following intermission. “Having Jack hit some shots early, after not being able to play much in the first half because of foul trouble, helped, too, and I think our guys really picked up on his energy.”
“But the key was holding them to just two points in the first 8 minutes of the second half. Any time you come out of halftime with that kind of run, you have a pretty good chance to win.”
Loofburrow, a 6-foot-7 senior, opened Whitworth’s big second half with a medium-range jumper from the right baseline. He soon added a bucket on a short fall-away from the right wing and then put the Pirates up 49-29 with a 3-pointer from just beyond the top of the key with just less than 14 1/2 minutes left.
Lasisi was also a major factor, scoring eight straight points near the end of Whitworth’s huge run. Friedt remained a steadying – and productive – force inside all night long.
The Pirates played terrific defense throughout the game, limiting the Bruins to 28.6 percent shooting (8 for 28) after intermission and 32.7 percent (18 for 55) for the game.
“It all started with defense,” said Lasisi, a senior transfer from North Idaho College, who finished 8 for 13 from the field and connected on 4 of 6 3-point attempts. “We shut them down in the first 8 minutes of the second half, and that set the tone.
“We played OK in the first half, but we felt like we could take it a step further and up our defensive intensity a little bit, which we were able to do. And that led to some easy buckets and lot more points.”
Whitworth didn’t shoot the ball particularly well in the opening 10 minutes, but the Pirates managed to carve out a 36-27 halftime lead on the strength of their defense. The Pirates let Mike Taylor, who finished with a team-high 18 points for George Fox, loose for 12 first-half points on 4-for-8 shooting, but the rest of the Bruins were a combined 6 for 19.
Lasisi finished with 11 first-half points and pulled down four rebounds.
Whitworth plays at home again at 7 p.m. Saturday in a nonconference game against Montana Tech.