In a game with 16 ties and 15 lead changes, the Whitworth Pirates somehow found enough points at the end to win a thrilling 76-73 basketball battle with Northwest Conference foe Pacific Lutheran Friday night.
The Pirates trailed for most of the second half and didn’t take the lead until about a minute left when George Valle’s putback of Kenny Love’s missed shot gave Whitworth (9-3, 3-0) a 74-72 advantage.
Two free throws by Whitworth and one by PLU made it 76-73. The Lutes (4-8, 1-2) had the ball with 4 seconds left but the Pirates forced a turnover.
“That’s been the story with all of our games with PLU,” Whitworth coach Matt Logie said.
“This is why you play the game. I’m really proud of our guys for stepping up to the challenge.”
PLU’s 6-foot-6 post, Bryce Miller, stung Whitworth inside, and guard Daniel Landram burned the Pirates defense with drives into the lane.
“Bryce Miller was very tough,” Logie said of the sophomore from Fife, Wash., who scored 22 points for PLU. “You gotta give their guys credit. They are a very, very tough basketball team.”
Landram added 20 points and Arvid Isaksen 15 for the Lutes.
For Whitworth, it seemed like every player had a huge moment or shot to contribute.
Senior guard Colton McCargar had a “quiet” seven points for Whitworth in the first half, but his shooter’s touch caught fire in the second.
He finished with a team-high 21 points for Whitworth. Valle added 14 points, Christian Jurlina 13 points, and Love 10.
“He has been steady for us,” Logie said. “He’s never afraid to take his shot. He carried us at times with his scoring. He put us in a position to win it at the end.”
PLU took the early lead with Landram layup and both teams were off to the races in a first half that include eight ties and eight lead changes before the teams went to the break with PLU leading 36-32.
The second half was a rock concert and the crowd shook Whitworth Fieldhouse as the Pirates stayed close and finally pulled out the victory.
“We practice 4-minute segments to end the game,” McCargar said. “At that timeout … we said, ‘Just get stops and play our ball.’ And, we came out with a lead.”
Whit women win
Kayla Johnson led four players in double figures with 22 points and the Whitworth women’s basketball team trounced Pacific Lutheran 92-50 in its Northwest Conference home opener.
The win was the Pirates’ sixth straight, and they’ve all come with relative ease. Whitworth’s average margin of victory is 26 points during the streak.
Whitworth (9-3, 3-0) forced 32 turnovers and made 28 of 32 free throws. The Pirates led 44-20 at halftime.
Whitworth’s K.C. McConnell added 16 points and seven rebounds, Katara Belton-Sharp scored 13 and Kendra Luhue chipped in 11.
The Lutes (5-7, 1-2) got a combined 25 points from Samantha Potter and Katelyn Smith.
Whitworth is host to Puget Sound tonight at 6.