Starting conference play 1-2 can be frustrating for any team.
Especially so for Whitworth, which has lost as many Northwest Conference tilts in the first three games of the season than the last two seasons combined.
The Pirates allowed the Pacific Boxers to shoot 50 percent from the floor and 56.3 percent from 3-point range in a 90-88 loss at the Whitworth Fieldhouse on Friday night.
“Our backs are certainly against the wall,” Whitworth head coach Matt Logie said. “We put ourselves in this position, and it’s up to us to get us out of it.”
The pitfall for the Pirates on Friday night, according to Logie, was a lack of defensive intensity.
“That’s just not ever how we played or the makeup of our team,” said Logie, citing his team’s defensive effort. “That’s just not how we play or the makeup of our team.
“Unfortunately we got a big, giant spoonful of that medicine tonight. And hopefully we don’t like the way it tastes.”
The Boxers (8-3, 2-1 NWC) led for most of the second half, but Whitworth stuck around and eventually tied the game at 79 on a pair of free throws by Christian Jurlina with 3:50 remaining.
Jurlina had a good look at a 3-pointer to tie the game with 35 seconds left, and Pacific’s Davis Holly drilled a pair of free throws to push the Boxers’ lead to five.
The Pirates eventually had a chance, down by two points with 5.1 seconds left. But Kenny Love slipped while pivoting just past midcourt and time expired as he fell to the ground.
Foul trouble did a number on the Pirates. Starting center Drew Sears fouled out with 2:52 remaining, and reserve freshman forward Benjamin Nick left with 5:01 remaining. Whitworth went to sophomore forward Ben Bishop to fill the frontcourt void, but he missed four key free throws in the last four minutes.
“The fouls just took us our of our rhythm,” Love said.
Pacific’s bench was productive, outscoring the Pirates 41-16. Reserve sophomore J.J. Spitler led all Boxers scorers, scoring 15 points on 7 of 11 shooting. Michael Joseph controlled the glass, collecting 10 rebounds.
Love finished with 27 points in the losing effort. Kyle Roach added 21 points.
The Pirates established a lead as large as 10 in the first half, but Pacific fired off a 22-4 run from 9:12 to 2:43 to grab an eight-point lead.
Pacific led 48-44 at halftime.
Three different Pirates – Kyle Roach, Love and Jurlina – had nine points in the first half. R.J. Collins came off the bench and scored 12 points for the Boxers.
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