Whitworth University didn’t take long to present Matt Logie with his first victory as a collegiate head coach.
And for that, Logie was grateful.
“I’m glad they didn’t make me wait,” he said after watching his 12th-ranked Pirates use the outside shooting of junior point guard Wade Gebbers and game-long suffocating defensive pressure to brush aside visiting UC Santa Cruz 70-54 in Thursday night’s season opener at Whitworth Fieldhouse. “Was it perfect? No. But they’re not always pretty.
“I thought our guys hung in there tonight, stuck to the script defensively – which is what we try to focus on – and did some really good things we can build on.”
Gebbers, one of two starters returning from last year’s 28-2 team that helped Logie’s predecessor Jim Hayford land his first NCAA Division I head coaching job at Eastern Washington, scored a team-high 17 points and provided a steadying influence throughout the night.
The 5-11, 165-pounder from Brewster knocked down five of seven 3-point attempts, including three in the first 8 minutes of the game, to propel the Pirates to an early 23-9 lead.
“He really got us off on the right foot by making some shots early,” Logie said of Gebbers, who also had four rebounds, a couple of assists and only one turnover in 31 minutes. “That really calmed everybody down. He’s just so under control with the ball, and hard to pressure, which makes it easier for everyone.”
Idris Lasisi, a first-year senior transfer from North Idaho College, also gave Whitworth some early production and finished with 11 points, despite playing only 9 minutes in the first half because of foul problems.
“He got a little bit out of the flow when he had to sit down with those three fouls,” Logie said of the 6-2, 200-pound wing, who made four of 10 basket tries, including three 3-pointers, “but I wanted to make sure we had him in the second half, and he made some plays at the beginning of the second half, as well.”
Despite all the good things Whitworth did early, the Pirates led only 40-30 at halftime as UCSC (0-2), which lost its season opener to Division I UC Davis 84-78 on Tuesday, stayed close behind the outside shooting of Trent Reeves, who finished with a game-high 18 points.
But the Pirates opened the second half with a 14-3 run that decided the issue.
Eleven players scored for Whitworth, but senior center Felix Friedt, Logie’s other returning starter, managed only eight points on 3-for-5 shooting as the Bucs did most of their damage from the perimeter.
“I’d like to think we’ve got really good shooters,” Logie said. “But I thought our balance was a bit distorted from what we would typically want. Felix is a horse down low, and we want to get him touches.”
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