The Whitworth players fed off the emotion of the crowd Saturday night. Then they fed the ball to Colton McCargar.
When the frenzy was over, the Pirates had earned an 86-67 win over Emory in the second round of the NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament and a spot in the Sweet 16.
McCargar found his sweet spot early and often, hitting all seven of his shots on the way to 18 points in the first half alone. Four of those were 3-pointers from the left side of the arc, the last giving Whitworth a 31-12 lead that stayed in double digits the rest of the night.
“It really doesn’t get much better than to be able to do this,” said McCargar, a junior guard from Richland who finished with 26 points and a second straight career-high game, both coming in the NCAA tournament.
McCargar scored 21 points in a first-round win over Redlands on March 2.
The sixth-ranked Pirates (26-3) will learn this afternoon whether their Sweet 16 game against Mary Hardin-Baylor will be played deep in the heart of Texas or at Whitworth Fieldhouse. The winner of that contest will advance to the quarterfinals in New Salem, Va.
“I’m really pleased to be moving on,” said second-year Whitworth coach Matt Logie, whose club also reached the third round last year.
Saturday’s game wasn’t without a few anxious moments. The Eagles (20-7) used their pressure defense to pull within 71-61 with 5:10 to play, but a foul on Michael Florin and a technical on leading scorer Jake Davis sent Whitworth’s Dustin McConnell to the line for four shots.
McConnell made them all and McCargar finished off the Eagles with another 3 to give Whitworth a 78-61 lead with 4:43 left.
For the game, McCargar hit 10 of 14 shots and 6 of 9 from three-point range for a game-high 26 points.
“Colton’s a tremdous shooter and he puts the time in the gym to give himself the confidence to step up and take those shots,” Logie said. “He’s hard to turn off once he gets going.”
Neither was the Whitworth crowd, which erupted and stayed in full roar after an early 3 from forward Mack Larkin that gave the Pirates a 7-2 lead.
“After I hit it, I knew, we had a great crowd tonight,” said Larkin, who finished with 12 points and a team-high six rebounds.
Five minutes into the game, Whitworth led only 9-6 when Larkin got off another 3-point shot that left his hand just before the shot clock expired. The shot was good, but Emory was assessed a team technical. McConnell made the resulting free throws and suddenly the lead was 14-6.
The lead ballooned to 31-12 before the Eagles rallied late in the half and trailed 42-30 at halftime. But the Pirates were re-energized coming out of the locker room, getting 3s from McConnell and Wade Gebbers to stretch the lead to 48-32.
“From the beginning they put us on our heels,” Emory coach Jason Zimmerman said. “I thought we made a good run, and I thought we had a good shot, but they hit those two 3s.”
Meanwhile, the Eagles from Atlanta were hit with two more technicals, both on Davis, who finished with 22 points but also finished the game in the locker room.
“They were pretty physical, but we kept our composure,” Gebbers said. “We always try to stay on an even keel and stay within ourselves.”
Emory’s pressing defense was able to force 19 Whitworth turnovers, but the Pirates were also able to effectively break the pressure for easy baskets.
Whitworth hit 53 percent (25 for 47) from the field and 52.6 percent (10 for 19) from 3-point range.
McConnell added 17 points while Larkin finished with 12 points and a team-high six rebounds.
Gebbers scored 11 and dished out four assists and George Valle totaled 10 points.
Whitworth 86, Emory 67
Emory (20-7)—Friedberg 3-8, 0-0 6, J. Davis 9-17 4-6 22, Greven 5-11 4-4 16, Florin 3-8 3-3 9, Moore 3-6 1-2 7, Rao 0-0 0-0 0, Coleman 0-0 0-0 0, Friess 0-0 0-0 0, Foster 0-0 0-0 0, Trawick 0-0 2-2 2, Schattie 1-4 1-2 3, M. Davis 0-0 0-3 0, Simmons 0-0 0-0 0, Carleton 0-0 0-0 0, Oh 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 25-56 15-22 67.
Whitworth (26-3)—Larkin 4-5 2-2 12, Valle 4-8 2-4 10, Farnsworth 2-3 2-4 6, McConnell 2-7 12-12 17, Gebbers 1-6 8-8 11, Douglas 0-1 0-0 0, McNiel 0-0 0-0 0, Payne 2-2 0-1 4, McCargar 10-14 0-0 26, Peterson 0-0 0-0 0, Roth 0-0 0-0 0, McEachran 0-0 0-0 0, Adams 0-1 0-0 0, Loiler 0-0 0-0 0, Wilks 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-47 26-31 86.
Halftime—Whitworth 42, Emory 30. 3-Point Goals—Emory 2-11 (Greven 2-6, Davis 0-3, Moore 0-1, Schattie 0-1), Whitworth 10-19 (McCargar 6-9, Larkin 2-3, McConnell 1-3, Gebbers 1-4). Fouled Out—Schattie. Rebounds—Emory 29 (Friedberg, Schattie 6), Whitworth 30 (Larkin 6). Assists—Emory 10 (Florin 8), Whitworth 14 (Gebbers 4). Total Fouls—Emory 21, Whitworth 19. Technical—J. Davis 2, Emory team. A—1,745.
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