Brendon McCullough’s runner bounced off the rim as time expired, allowing 7th-ranked Whitworth to escape with a 67-65 win at Willamette in a Northwest Conference men’s basketball game on Friday night at Cone Field House in Salem, Oregon.
The visiting Pirates improved to 14-2 overall and 6-1 in the NWC despite their worst shooting night of the season (36 percent).
Ben College and Ben Bishop scored the first two baskets of the second half to give Whitworth a 37-25 lead, tying its largest margin of the night. The Pirates were still up 47-36 when Willamette used a 12-3 run to pull within 50-48 on Trent Callan’s jump shot. With 1:52 remaining, Nico Troplent’s 3-pointer put the Bearcats (8-8, 3-4 NWC) ahead 63-62, their first lead since the first half.
Trailing 65-64, Kyle Roach hit a pair of free throws, giving the Pirates the lead with 1:05 to play. The Pirates then forced Willamette turnovers on consecutive possessions, but got only one free throw from Sam Lees for their final point. Roach’s 3-point attempt with under 10 seconds left was rebounded by McCullough, giving Willamette its last-ditch shot. McCullough took the inbounds pass, went the length of the floor, drove into traffic and was not able to get a clean look at a tying basket.
Whitworth led 33-25 at the half despite shooting only 29 percent from the field. However, the Pirates took advantage of 11 turnovers by the Bearcats and Whitworth went 7-for-10 at the free throw line.
Roach finished with a game-high 22 points and added six rebounds. Jared Christy had 12 points and eight boards, while College scored 11. Lees came off the bench for 10 points and five rebounds.
Whitworth committed only nine turnovers and 11 personal fouls.
Jordan Jenkins scored 18 points to lead Willamette, while Callan finished with 13 points. Thornton scored nine off the bench on three three-pointers.
Whitworth, which won its 16th in a row over the Bearcats, will complete its trip to Oregon on Saturday with a game at Linfield College at 6 p.m.
Willamette defeated visiting Whitworth 79-77 despite a furious fourth-quarter comeback by the Pirates and another double-double from Madison Moffat.
Kylie Towry led Willamette (10-6, 6-1 NWC) with 24 points, Moffat had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and five Pirates (6-10, 1-6 NWC) scored in double figures.
The Bearcats initially pulled away in the third quarter, building a 63-47 advantage heading in the fourth quarter. Back-to-back three-pointers from Erika Kuehn and Grace Douglas gave Whitworth the lead at 71-70 with 2 minutes, 8 seconds remaining but the Bearcats quickly regained the lead and held on to win.
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