Whitworth’s success on the basketball court Saturday night could be summarized in one word:
The Pirates remained poised as the game tightened in the second half, and their eventual 16-0 run turned away Linfield in an 82-70 victory in a Northwest Conference men’s game at the Whitworth Fieldhouse.
Whitworth avenged a nine-point loss against the Wildcats last month to improve to 17-4 overall and 9-3 in the NWC.
Linfield, which had won four of its last five, fell to 8-13 and 6-6.
Drew Schroeder’s layin pulled the Wildcats within 59-58 with 71/2 minutes left, but Whitworth scored the next 16 points to put the game out of reach. Linfield was whistled for two technical fouls during that stretch.
“Coach (Hayford) talks about us being tough, and it’s not just beating on your chest,” senior Tim Sellereit said. “That’s what we were trying to focus on. We were tougher than they were.”
Sellereit made all four of Whitworth’s free throws following the technical fouls. He also added a 3-pointer during the game-clinching spurt. David Riley also scored 19 of his team-high 21 points after halftime.
Pirates point guard Ross Nakamura scored 15 of his 20 points in the first half to keep his team in contention, although Whitworth trailed 35-32 at intermission.
“They’re one of the better pressure teams in our conference, and they match up well with us on the front line,” Whitworth coach Jim Hayford said. “They like to go after our backcourt with a lot of pressure. Basketball is a game of matchups, and they match up well with us. Fortunately, we have two senior guards in Ross and Tim who can absorb that pressure.”
Sellereit, in particular, has evolved into a more complete player this season. More of a spot-up shooter in seasons past, Sellereit has been much more aggressive on offense and become a regular contributor on that end of the floor to complement his hard-nosed defense.
“All I want to do is play hard and work on defense,” said Sellereit, who finished with 16 points. “I try to let the game come to me. I love basketball, and I want to play it the right way.”
Whitworth’s Nate Montgomery anchored the low post and made 11 of 12 free throws en route to a 17-point effort.
Cody Tesoro and K.C. Wiser scored 17 and 16 points, respectively, for the Wildcats.
North Idaho 63, Salt Lake 54: At Salt Lake City, Taylor Stevens made 4 of 6 3-pointers and scored 13 to lead the 15th-ranked Cardinals (21-3, 6-3) to a Scenic West Athletic Conference victory over the eighth-ranked Bruins (20-3, 7-2).
Shawn Henderson added 12 points, while Guy-Marc Michel had nine rebounds and Melvin Jones had five assists for North Idaho.
DJ Wright scored 14 points and Nate Bendall had 12 points and nine rebounds for Salt Lake. Kael Pope dished out seven assists.
CC Spokane 69, Wenatchee Valley 51: At Spokane Community College, Damal Neil scored 17 points and Derek Gianukakis added 13 points to lead the Sasquatch (15-4, 7-1) to a Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges win over the Knights (8-14, 2-6).
Kellen Drake led Wenatchee Valley with 12 points and eight rebounds.
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