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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Whits’ hustle keys victory over Pacific

With 10 minutes, 50 seconds left in Whitworth College’s 75-52 victory over Pacific on Saturday night, the Boxers’ Branden Kawazoe missed a contested 15-foot jumper from the right side.

The Whits’ 6-foot-3 George Tucker battled three taller Boxers for the weakside board, with the contact continuing until Tucker finally dove into the Pacific bench, tipping the ball forward as he was going out of bounds. Teammate J.J. Jones corralled the ball, found an open Jon Young upcourt and Young drained a 3-pointer for a 50-30 lead.

Those 10 seconds were the game in miniature.

Defense, effort, rebounding and timely shooting – absent at times from the Pirates’ attack in a four-game losing streak – were on display from the opening tip before 825 fans at the Fieldhouse.

“We showed better intensity tonight than we had in the last four games combined,” Whitworth coach Jim Hayford said. “We have such a long way to go, though I think we took a step forward tonight.”

The steps began from the tip, when the Pirates attacked Pacific on the defensive end, forcing three early turnovers and two hurried shots to build a 14-0 lead.

Young, who finished with 17 points, hit three 3-pointers and Bryan Williams added five points in the onslaught.

“The defensive effort really got us going offensively,” said Young, a sophomore guard. “When you get a team on their heels offensively, they are going to be on their heels on the other end as well.”

The Pirates, 6-8 overall and 2-4 in the Northwest Conference, were put on the spot by Hayford after Friday’s 83-79 loss to Lewis and Clark, a game in which the Pioneers shot 57 percent from the floor. The goal Saturday was to get three consecutive scoreless Pacific possessions three times each half.

“(Hayford) gave each of us a copy of the headline of the story in the paper today,” Young said. “We had to keep it with us, in our sock or somewhere, during shootaround today.

“He gave us the defensive goal, and we did it in the first half, but not in the second. We didn’t do it at all Friday.”

If the Whits didn’t reach their goal after halftime, they did limit the Boxers (2-11, 1-4) to 38 percent shooting overall, outrebounded them 40-22 and forced 14 turnovers.

With Lance Pecht coming off the bench to hit 7 of 9 from the floor en route to a game-high 18 points, the Pirates’ slower-paced, spread offense resulted in 47 percent shooting, 15 offensive rebounds and points from 10 players.

The Pirates’ rebounding effort was sparked by 6-6 senior Mike Larkin (10) and junior Tucker (nine).

The win came despite the efforts of Pacific’s freshman point guard Brad Krichevsky, a 64 percent foul shooter who converted 8 of 9 as he scored a team-high 15 points.

But no other Boxer reached double figures.

“This year has been about consistent effort,” Young said. “When we get it, we can play with anyone. We realize we have to have defensive runs just like we need offensive runs. We had them tonight.”

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