Playing for the first time in 52 weeks as an unranked team, the Whitworth Pirates (4-2) hardly missed a step and cruised to an 87-67 win over the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs (2-5) at the Whitworth Fieldhouse on Saturday night.
“I thought for the first time all year we put two halves together and played consistently on both sides of the ball,” Whitworth coach Matt Logie said. “We’ve been really struggling to find some consistency and urgency on the defensive end of the floor and I thought we did a better job of that tonight.”
The Pirates had four players in double figures and two more with nine points. George Valle led the way with 14, while Taylor Farnsworth (13), Robby Douglas (12) and Colton McCargar (10) helped carry the load.
“We’ve prided ourselves on balance,” Logie said. “We want to share the basketball and we want to get good shots. We feel we have enough pieces to step up in any game.”
Whitworth bottled up Santa Cruz after the Banana Slugs began the game making seven of their first ten shots. Santa Cruz center James Townsend had 10 points within the first eight minutes, but only scored six the rest of the way to finish with 16 points.
“He made a couple threes, one in transition and one where we just didn’t close out,” Logie said. “Once we kind of adjusted to his ability to shoot the ball, we did a pretty good job against him on the inside.”
The Pirates began to pull away toward the end of the first half when they went on an 11-0 run in the final 4:14. The Pirates continued to run away with the game in the second half and were able to play their reserves at the end of the game.
The Pirates had the hot hand all night, shooting 58 percent for the game, and made five shots from beyond the 3-point arc. Santa Cruz shot 43 percent for the game. Whitworth dominated the game on the boards, grabbing 38 rebounds to just 18 for Santa Cruz.
Logie said playing unranked for the first time in a long time didn’t serve as too much motivation, especially this early.
“Oftentimes those rankings are based on past seasons and past teams,” he said. “For us it’s all about continuing to grow and help our team reach its potential by the end of the year.”
The Pirates stay at home to play Southwestern University on Dec. 16.
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