Trailing at halftime, the Whitworth Pirates surged in the second half of a slugfest to beat visiting Puget Sound 78-72 Friday night at Whitworth Fieldhouse.
With the win, the Pirates remain unbeaten in conference play and retain their lead atop the Northwest Conference.
“UPS has tremendous fight and will,” Whitworth coach Matt Logie said. “We weren’t able to get the rebounds down the stretch to close the door.”
Whitworth controlled the tip to start the game and the Pirates set up Christian Jurlina for an open-look 3. He missed and the rest of the team followed with a resounding thud in the first half.
“I just think they came out more intense than we did,” said Jurlina, who scored 20 points in front of his parents visiting from Sydney, Australia. “Credit should go to our team for sticking to our game plan and pulling it out.”
In the first half, the teams traded the lead early seven times as the Pirates (14-2, 7-0) struggled to get anything going against the Loggers’ stifling defense.
The Loggers (8-6, 3-3) went to the break leading 33-29.
But Taylor Farnsworth set the tone in the second half with a thunderous dunk for Whitworth’s first points. The teams eventually traded the lead 14 times before the Pirates were able to build an 11-point lead with seven minutes to go.
But Keith Shattuck, who led the Loggers with 19 points, kept hitting 3-pointers for the Loggers who eventually cut the lead to 74-71 with 35 seconds to play. However, Whitworth guard Matt Staudacher scored the next four points to ice the win.
“They are long and strong and attack the ball well,” said Farnsworth, who scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Pirates. “We didn’t do a great job matching that intensity, especially in the first half.”
Staudacher had 14 points and Kenny Love scored 12 as Whitworth hit 51.7 percent of its shots.
While the Loggers won the rebound battle, Whitworth outscored the Loggers 42-20 in the paint.
UPS had three players in double figures. Forward Nick Holden scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Kohl Meyer added 12 for Puget Sound.
The Pirates don’t have long to ceclebrate the win. They host Pacific Lutheran (5-10, 3-3) at 6 tonight at Whitworth Fieldhouse.
Logie said the team turned to its senior leader when it needed him most.
“Taylor was terrific for us all night,” Logie said of Farnsworth. “He gave us second-chance opportunities when we weren’t shooting well.”
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