Calvin Jurich’s block of a putback attempt in the final seconds allowed visiting Whitworth to hold on for an important 69-68 Northwest Conference men’s basketball victory over Willamette on Friday night at Cone Field House in Salem, Ore.
With the game tied at 60 with just more than 6 minutes to play, the Pirates appeared to take control with a 7-0 run capped by Ross Nakamura’s 3-pointer with 3:22 left and a 67-60 lead.
With 1:16 remaining, Whitworth’s Nate Montgomery made a layup for a 69-62 lead. But Willamette made two 3-pointers and Whitworth missed four free throws, leaving Willamette in possession working for the final shot.
After the ball went off Whitworth out of bounds with 7 seconds left, Willamette worked the ball to Josh Erickson in the corner. His 3-pointer missed and the rebound putback attempt by Nick Babij was blocked by Jurich. Kyler McClary and Nakamura fought for the rebound as time expired.
The 15th-ranked Pirates rallied from a 12-point first-half deficit to improve to 11-1 overall and 3-0 in the NWC. The Bearcats fell to 6-4, 2-1 and saw their six-game winning streak come to an end.
David Riley led Whitworth with 17 points, Nakamura hit four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points, and Montgomery added 13 points and 10 rebounds. Bo Gregg scored 11 points for the Pirates.
McClary led all players with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Whitworth continues its Oregon trip with a game at Linfield tonight at 6.
•Renado Parker scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lift North Idaho past Eastern Utah 72-62 in the Scenic West opener that matched a pair of unbeaten teams in Price, Utah.
The Cardinals (16-0) got 13 points from Shawn Henderson and seven assists with no turnovers by Melvin Jones. Darington Hobson had 17 points and 14 rebounds for Eastern Utah and Stephen Franklin scored 17.
Senior forward Alida Bower scored 15 of her 20 points in the first half to spark Whitworth to its first Northwest Conference victory, 78-69 over Willamette in Salem, Ore.
Cassie Pilkinton and Natalie Orrell split 26 points for the Pirates (7-5, 1-2), who hit 26 of 32 free throws. Molly Fillion led the Bearcats (1-8, 0-2) with 27 points and 13 rebounds.
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