One shot said it all.
The Whitworth Fieldhouse crowd roared as Jack Loofburrow buried a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer Friday night.
With it, he also buried the memory of eight weeks lost to injury as he helped the Pirates to a runaway 78-59 men’s basketball win over Puget Sound.
“It was tough being out for so long,” said Loofburrow, finally recoved from a right-ankle fracture. “But it sure feels great to help the team out.”
Along with forward Mack Larkin – also recently returned from injury – Loofburrow helped Whitworth keep a two-game lead over Whitman in the Northwest Conference race. The Pirates (17-3, 10-1 NWC) host Pacific Lutheran at 6 tonight.
The Pirates won a 103-94 triple-overtime thriller over the Lutes on Jan. 6 in Tacoma.
Friday night’s game was a thriller only for head coach Matt Logie, whose team hits the final weeks of the season with a healthy frontcourt.
“It’s one thing to have all the bodies,” Logie said. “But we’re starting to hit our stride.”
Together with Larkin, who also missed games to injury this season, and Felix Friedt, Loofburrow helped the Pirates dominate inside en route to a comfortable win over a team that had won four straight.
“Felix has had to carry the load, and now we can have some different guys do that,” Logie said.
Friedt still led the Bucs with 16 points, but he got plenty of help as five Pirates scored in double figures. Loofburrow had 11 points and four boards; Idris Lasisi scored 10 and matched Friedt with five rebounds; Wade Gebbers added 14 points; and Dustin McConnell scored 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting.
The Pirates hit 31 of 56 shots (55 percent).
UPS (15-5, 7-4) came into the game scoring a conference-leading 76 points per game, but was held to 43 percent shooting from the field. The Loggers’ Anthony Gittens, who was leading the NWC with a 66.3 field-goal percentage, finished 4 for 9 and scored 10. He led all players with seven boards.
Whitworth outscored the Loggers 48-22 inside, and turned 13 UPS turnovers into 22 points at the other end.
The Pirates never trailed. UPS was within 25-21 with 7:32 left in the first half, but never got closer than 12 in the second half.
Larkin brought the defensive intensity in the opening minutes with two blocks and a steal to give Whitworth a 12-4 lead.
After the Loggers whittled the lead to one, Felix Friedt worked inside for two scores and a foul shot to make it 17-11.
The lead grew from there, culminating in Loofburrow’s long 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer.
“That definitely felt good,” said Loofburrow, who finished 5 for 8 from the field.
That gave the Pirates a 44-30 lead that grew to as much as 21 in the second half.
By halftime, the Pirates had outscored UPS 32-10 in the paint and hit 61 percent from the field.
The only thing missing was 3-point shooting. Whitworth shot 6 for 20 from long range.
Whitworth was coming off three straight road wins, but had lost its previous home game, 77-66 to Whitman on Jan. 17. Kaleb Shelton led the Loggers with 14 points.
Whitworth 69, Puget Sound 61: Lexi Belcher scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Pirates to an upset win over the visiting Loggers.
The win keeps alive the fifth-place Pirates’ hopes for a spot in the four-team Northwest Conference tournament. A win tonight against Pacific Lutheran would move Whitworth (9-11, 5-6) within a game of the loser of tonight’s UPS-Whitman game in Walla Walla.
Whitworth led 34-29 at halftime, but the Loggers took a 41-40 advantage with 12:55 left in the game. Lauren Picha put the Pirates ahead for good with a 3-pointer, and Whitworth led 60-50 with 5:08 left.
The Loggers (11-9, 7-4) used two turnovers and a pair of scores to cut the gap to 60-54 with 4:30 remaining, but Belcher’s layup and a 3-pointer by Emily Guthrie helped the Pirates pull away.