Whitworth took a while to get going but never surrendered the lead to Marian (Wisconsin) in a 78-64 men’s basketball win Sunday on the Pirates’ home court.
The Pirates improved to 6-2 and host Wells College today at noon in their final nonconference game before opening Northwest Conference play.
“We fought,” coach Matt Logie said. “We are getting better on the defensive end and it’s showing.”
Facing an undersized opponent, Logie said the offensive game plan was to pound it inside to 6-foot-8 Taylor Farnsworth and 6-7 Adam Wilks. It worked.
Those two senior centers combined for 25 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks.
“They did a good job as a two-headed monster down there,” Logie said.
The Sabres (6-4) trailed by 12 at halftime and the Pirates built their lead to as many as 16 points with 9:22 to play. However, Marian clawed back and narrowed Whitworth’s lead to just seven points with 1:04 remaining in the game.
But free throws by Christian Jurlina, George Valle and Matt Staudacher sealed the victory.
“It was nice to be able to close them out there,” said sophomore guard Kenny Love, who tied for the game high with 14 points. “There are still some things we need to get better at, but it was a good win today.”
The Pirates finished the game with five players in double figures. Jurlina, Love and Farnsworth all had 14 points. Staudacher scored 12 and Wilks had 11. Wilks tied Farnsworth with six rebounds.
“That’s one of the things we take pride in is a balanced offensive attack,” Logie said.
Love said the team suffered a couple tough losses early in the season as the team worked in new players.
“Early in the season, we would get stagnant as we were learning to play with each other,” he said. “But we are figuring out how we need to play collectively.”
Logie said most of that work has come on the defensive side of the ball.
“We invested a lot into our defense in the last month,” he said. “Tonight was an opportunity to show how we’ve grown.”
The Pirates held the Sabres to 36.7 percent shooting. They also held leading scorer Josh Creed to 12 points, four below his average. Alex Stecker led the Sabres with 13 points.
“When (Creed) has had big games, they win,” Logie said. “We tried to take away what he does well. I thought our defensive intensity was good throughout.”
The Pirates now get ready for the Wells College Express (1-7) from Aurora, New York.
“They are an athletic team that likes to press,” Logie said, “so we have to take good care of the basketball.”
The Pirates open their conference season Jan. 2 at Willamette.
“We have one more test before conference play,” Logie said. “But we are growing and getting better. We are taking steps in the right direction.”
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