If you’re looking for a nail-biting, suspenseful basketball experience it may not be found at the Whitworth Pirates Fieldhouse anytime soon.
However, if you want to see a nationally ranked team utterly dominate its opponent, shoot the ball well, play smothering defense and have the opposing coach pounding the scoring table screaming at referees as if they have some semblance of control over the outcome of the contest, then feel free to watch the No. 4-ranked Pirates leave their opponents behind.
Whitworth defeated Pacific Lutheran University 93-58 Friday night to keep its record perfect at 12-0 overall, 3-0 in the Northwest Conference doing those very things.
PLU fell to 6-5, 1-2.
“It was a real complete performance,” Whitworth coach Jim Hayford. “We shot the ball as well as we could, played strong defense and kept our turnovers low.”
On the floor, the Pirates clearly resemble their coach: they display high precision with limited emotion.
The Pirates’ David Riley led all scorers with 26 points, followed by Jack Loofburrow’s 21. The Pirates nearly tied their month-old team record for 3-point baskets made with 17. Last month they set the record with 18 3s converted against Whittier.
The 3-point binge became so contagious that the Pirates’ 6-foot-8 center, Felix Friedt, scored the first 3 of his career, though just barely. From the right side of the floor, the ball smacked the front of the rim so hard it had little choice but to crawl over and into the basket.
Only two players for Pacific Lutheran – James Conti and Curtis Trondsen – could sneak into double figures, scoring 11 points each.
Hayford said it has not been a challenge keeping his team focused on playing basketball and not getting caught up in high rankings and gaudy streaks.
“Our guys are great,” Hayford said. “Our mantra is, ‘let’s get better today.’ And there is a complete buy-in to that.”
Tonight, Puget Sound will attempt to bring some level of suspense to the Whitworth Fieldhouse, where the Pirates have a 27-game home winning streak in place.
In addition, the Pirates have also won 23 straight regular-season Northwest Conference games.
Pacific Lutheran 86, Whitworth 60: Katelyn Smith led five Lutes players in double figures with 16 points off the bench and PLU (4-7, 2-1) shot 72 percent from the floor in the second half to pull away from the host Pirates (5-7, 1-2) in Northwest Conference action.
After trailing by seven at halftime, and cutting the deficit to three early in the second half, Whitworth watched the Lutes score 20 of the next 29 points to put the game out of reach.
Lexi Belcher tried to keep the Pirates close, scoring a career-high 20 points to go with five rebounds. Taylor LaMoreaux added 10 points, all coming in the first half.