After routing Pacific Lutheran by nearly 20 points earlier in the season, Matt Logie was looking for another easy win.
Instead, he got the biggest comeback in his seven seasons as head coach at Whitworth against a team with one win in the Northwest Conference.
The Pirates fell behind the Lutes on Friday by as much as 20 points before rallying to an 81-69 win.
“We were kind of stuck in mud, and PLU came out with a lot of energy,” Logie said. “We didn’t display a lot of toughness in the first half, which is why we were in the situation that we were, but they don’t quit.”
The win extended Whitworth’s winning streak to four. The Pirates improved their streak over the Lutes to 27 games, the longest streak against any opponent in program history.
The Pirates (16-2, 8-1) trailed for the entire first half, falling behind by 20 points near the end of the half when PLU’s Markus Glenn drained a 3-pointer to give the Lutes (4-13, 1-8) a 38-18 lead.
Whitworth couldn’t get the ball moving effectively on offense and struggled to stop even PLU’s smallest shooter, 5-foot-9 Kelton Williams, from driving to the rim. Midway through the half, the Pirates suffered a 6-minute scoring drought that allowed PLU to pull away on a 16-0 run.
Jared Christy’s two free throws snapped the run with 3 minutes left in the half. Roughly 30 seconds later, Garrett Hull hit Whitworth’s first field goal in 7 minutes with a long 3 that narrowed PLU’s lead to 38-23.
Logie lit into the Pirates on the sidelines just before halftime and got on them about slow ball movement and gaping holes in Whitworth’s defense.
“Coach kind of jumped on us right before halftime and at halftime, so we needed to respond,” Christy said.
Whitworth found a rhythm in the second half and put up three consecutive 3s, two by Hull and another by Kyle Roach, to pull within four points of the Lutes. Hull put the Pirates on top with a long jumper that gave Whitworth a 53-52 lead.
The Pirates used their size to post up and create opportunities inside. They pulled together a series of buckets at the rim that added to an 11-0 run late in the half.
“We usually shoot a lot of 3s, but we have a lot of size advantage against most teams on offense and defense, so we can get physical inside,” Christy said. “That was the turning factor for us today.”
The Lutes tied the score at 57 with a long 3 and a jumper, but Roach hit a 3 to give Whitworth the lead for good.
The Pirates finished 51.7 percent from the field (30 of 58) after shooting just 32.1 percent in the first half. They hit 8 of 25 attempts from 3-point range and outrebounded the Lutes 34-23.
Roach’s game-high 18 points led four Pirates in double figures. Christy, a transfer this season from PLU, scored 13 points and had seven boards. Ben College and Hull finished with 11 points apiece and combined for seven boards.
The loss extended PLU’s losing streak to five games.
The Pirates host Puget Sound during Whitworth’s alumni night on Saturday at 6.