By Thomas Clouse
In a game where No. 25 Whitman kept making run after run, No. 2 Whitworth found enough points from its big three players Tuesday night for an important 95-89 win.
Both teams shot better than 50 percent from the floor, but the Missionaries (10-2, 2-1 Northwest Conference) could not stop the scoring from Whitworth’s Christian Jurlina, George Valle and Kenny Love.
“Those guys have been around the block a few times,” coach Matt Logie said of his top scorers. “They wanted to defend their own court. It was a great win.”
Jurlina led all scorers with 21 points. Valle, who is 13th on the all-time Whitworth scoring list, scored 19 and Love added 18. Matt Staudacher and Forest Baker each added 10 points to give the Pirates (12-0, 3-0) five players in double figures.
“It’s humbling that we get the recognition when all the other teammates make us better,” Jurlina said. “It’s not just the big three. I felt Forest (Baker) played an exceptional game today.”
Jurlina said the team practiced three days to find ways to break down Whitman’s full-court press, which caused 11 turnovers and led to 17 points for the Missionaries.
“That’s how they play,” Logie said. “They have a lot of success with it. Fortunately, we have a lot of guys who can handle the ball.”
The teams tied five times and traded the lead five times in the first half alone. Twice Whitworth built leads of 12 points in the second half only to watch Whitman get within six points with just over a minute left.
Tim Howell led Whitman with 20 points and four players scored in double figures. But Whitworth, which shot 57.1 percent from the floor, made just enough plays to hold on for the win.
“It was a tough, grinding game,” Jurlina said. “It’s always important to get one up on them, especially since the next time we see them will be at their place.”
In the first half, it didn’t seem like either team could miss.
Whitman opened the game hitting two 3-pointers and Christian McDonald was fouled on a third as the Missionaries raced to a 9-2 lead.
The Whitworth scorers, who faced full-court pressure the entire half, finally started to get some shots to fall. Jurlina stopped and popped a jumper to give the Pirates their first lead at 19-18 with about 12 minutes until the break.
The Missionaries scratched back to 47-46 lead with 2:06 until halftime. But Kenny Love hit two free throws and a layup sandwiched around an AJ Grant 3-pointer as Whitworth finished with a flourish to lead 54-46 at the break.
Whitman opened the second half with an Evan Martin dunk, but the Whitworth shooters got hot and the Pirates prevailed in a game that had 49 personal fouls called.
“Whitman is a really good team,” Logie said. “They were ranked No. 25 for a reason. But our guys did a good job of persevering.”
Whit women fall
The Whitworth women’s basketball team had a shot to win it at the end Tuesday night, but KC McConnell’s shot couldn’t connect and Whitman won 54-52.
The Pirates (7-5, 2-1 NWC) struggled to find good shots at the end, but a late 3-pointer by Grace Douglas gave them a chance against Whitman (10-1, 3-0).
“We had a shot at the end. That’s all you can ask for,” Whitworth coach Helen Higgs said. “But they are a good team. They execute well and play super disciplined.”
McConnell and Faith Emerson both scored 14 for the Pirates. McConnell also led the team with eight rebounds. Alysse Ketner led the Missionaries with 13 points.
“They put a lot of different bodies on her,” Higgs said of McConnell. “We didn’t do a good job of getting her the ball earlier in the game.”
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