No. 1 Whitworth shook off a shaky first half and raced away in the second half Saturday night for an 84-57 pounding of Pacific (Ore.) to earn the Pirates’ 20th win of the season.
The Pirates had four players score in double figures, led by 6-foot-10 center Drew Sears. The junior post led all scorers with a career-high 17 points, one crowd-energizing dunk and three blocks.
“My teammates just gave me the ball. I wasn’t exactly feeling it,” Sears said. “But we had to bring our own energy tonight, especially after the tough loss to Whitman.”
The Pirates (20-1, 11-1 Northwest Conference) dropped the 87-71 game at No. 20 Whitman on Tuesday and struggled to hit from the outside early. The Pirates hit only 1 of 7 from the 3-point arc in the first half.
“Our guys responded well” after the loss, coach Matt Logie said. “Any time you face adversity, it gives you a chance to grow.”
After Pacific (10-11, 4-8) scored the opening bucket on a Nate Olowo putback, the Pirates scored the next eight.
The Boxers scratched back to tie it at 12, but Kyle Roach hit a jumper for the Pirates and they never relinquished the lead for the rest of the half.
The play of the first half came with 2:49 to play when Kenny Love drove the lane, elevated and dunked over a defender to make it 30-24.
“That was a point in the game where we really needed to turn a corner,” Sears said. “Kenny just threw it down. That was awesome.”
After shooting 44.8 percent from the field in the first half, the Pirates started hitting from long range in the second and quickly put the game out of reach. The Pirates hit 5-of-9 behind the arc and the Boxers’ shooters went cold.
Sears blocked a Boxer shot, George Valle got the rebound and then fed a streaking Sears who scored the layup to start the second half and the rout was on.
Valle scored 14 points and had four rebounds and four steals; Love scored 12 and led the team with 6 rebounds; and Roach, a backup guard, had 12 points.
“Kyle gave us great energy off the bench,” Logie said. “He carried it over from Tuesday where he was a bright spot for us.”
Roach, a 6-4 freshman guard from Marinwood, Calif., said he’s started to find a rhythm in a team where it’s easy to get lost with so many offensive weapons.
“We have good players at every position,” Roach said. “I’m just starting to feel more comfortable out there and it feels good. We just have to keep the wins coming.”
For the game, the Pirates hit half their shots and held the Boxers to 38.6 percent shooting. Pacific was led by 14 points from K.C. Harrison.
“They are a tough team,” Roach said. “In the second half, we just came out and we were able to run a little more. We got some stops, got some good shots and they started falling.”
With the win, the Pirates now have 11 consecutive seasons with at least 20 wins. It’s the third-longest current streak in NCAA Division III.
“Twenty wins feels pretty good,” Sears said. “This is the best team I’ve been on so far. But, we have a lot of work left to do.”
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