The 10th-ranked Whitworth Pirates were having trouble getting stops Saturday night.
But their opponent, Pacific Lutheran, was having even more trouble taking a lead.
In fact, the Lutes never had a possession in which they could get in front until the last minute.
And that’s when the Pirates finally got their big stop – after giving up two offensive rebounds.
The Whits forced a tough Kai Hoyt shot that rimmed out and Felix Friedt grabbed the rebound with 6.8 seconds left as Whitworth held on for an 82-80 Northwest Conference men’s basketball victory.
The win lifted Whitworth’s conference mark to 11-1 and its overall record to 18-3 in coach Matt Logie’s first year.
But it wasn’t easy. Even though the Lutes (7-5, 10-11) never led, they stayed within striking distance the entire second half, making Whitworth chase their shooters all over the court and closing within one numerous times down the stretch, including at 81-80 with about a minute remaining.
Three shots to take the lead, three failures. Finally, after Friedt’s rebound, Mack Larkin was fouled with 1.2 seconds left. He made one, missed the second on purpose, and the Lutes’ long toss fell short.
“In a lot of respects, they are the opposite of us,” Logie said, “in terms of their speed and the amount of perimeter players they put on the floor, whereas we have a little more size.”
That size didn’t seem to help much in the final 4 minutes, when PLU grabbed seven of its 13 offensive rebounds.
“For a team you would think would have a rebound advantage, we couldn’t quite get that last carom,” Logie said.
They did get the last one, Friedt’s 10th (to go with 17 points and a game-high five assists) though the Lutes had a 26-23 overall advantage, including seven off the bench by 6-foot-1 guard Arvid Isaksen.
But Whitworth had the advantage outside and for the second consecutive night, Jack Loofburrow supplied a lot of it. The fifth-year senior, who missed eight weeks with a stress fracture in his foot, came off the bench to hit 5 of 6 3-pointers and 7 of 9 shots overall, pumping in 21 points.
“He gave us a great spark off the bench,” said Logie, who saw Loofburrow score 11 points in Friday’s win. “We missed him for a long time. He had a huge weekend for us.”
“It’s been tough so far, but I finally had a good weekend,” Loofburrow, who started his college career at Eastern Washington before transferring.
Wade Gebbers has played exclusively for the Bucs, but the junior has come into his own this season, according to Loofburrow.
“He has stepped up so much this year, not just scoring but being a team leader,” Loofburrow said. “He’s the one in the locker room that gets everyone going and he’s an extension of the coach on the floor.”
He also got the Pirates going on the court, tying a season-best with seven 3-pointers (out of 11 attempts) and leading all scorers with 22 points.
“He’s been a rock for us,” Logie said.