Whitworth’s 20th straight men’s basketball win was one of those efforts that make you wonder just how good these No. 3-ranked Pirates truly are.
A month ago in Cottage Grove, Ore., the Bucs held off a second-half surge to take a three-point win against Pacific.
But Saturday night’s rematch at the Fieldhouse was such a wall-to-wall rout that team co-captain Wade Gebbers knew the outcome of the game even before he left at intermission to be with his wife, Kristina, who went into labor during the first half.
In the end, it was a 98-63 drubbing – and that’s after the Boxers hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“There are a few things in life that are a lot more important than a basketball game and we’re all happy that Wade got to go experience one of them,” coach Matt Logie said. “Even better, he got go leave knowing that the game was pretty well taken care of.”
Whitworth opened the game with an intense defense that forced 17 Pacific turnovers that the Pirates turned into 33 points.
Dustin McConnell scored 16 of his game-high 21 points in the first half – including a running 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first half, a shot that had the junior guard dancing all the way to the locker room. George Valle and Colton McCargar added 15 and 14 points, respectively.
The Pirates sizzled from the field in the first half, connecting on 74 percent of their shots and were 6 of 11 from long range. With all of the Pirates starters on the bench midway through the second half, Whitworth still shot 62 percent from the field for the game.
Defensively, Whitworth held the Boxers to just 35 percent shooting in the first half (10 for 28) and held Pacific under 40 percent for the game.
The Pirates clinched at least a share of the Northwest Conference championship with the victory, holding a four-game lead over their nearest challenger with four games left in the regular season.
Whitworth can clinch its seventh consecutive outright conference championship Tuesday in Walla Walla when the Pirates face rival Whitman, which needed a come-from-behind effort to hold off visiting Lewis & Clark, 74-71.
On back-to-back nights, the Pirates opened February with impressive efforts – a 19-point win over Lewis & Clark, and a 35-point drubbing of Pacific.
“This weekend was the first time that we’ve put it all together on both ends, offensively and defensively,” Logie said. “Now we need to keep it going and keep winning games.”
The Pirates close out the regular season with three of four games on the road, including the final two games at Linfield and Willamette.
CC Spokane 104, Wenatchee Valley 72: Kwinn Hanson, a 2012 Northwest Christian graduate, scored 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting and grabbed 14 rebounds to guide the Sasquatch (15-7, 6-3) past the Knights (8-15, 2-8) in an NWAACC game at Spokane Community College.
Brady Bagby added 19 points and Tyler Edwards chipped in 11 for CCS.
Wenatchee Valley was led by Jordan Perry, who scored 18 points, and Sawyer Wahl and J.T. Reynolds, who added 15 points apiece.
Both teams shot well from the free-throw line. The Sasquatch made 23 of 27 while the Knights connected on 20 of 24.