RICHARDSON, Texas – Whitworth is back in the Sweet 16 for the first time in seven years.
Ben College scored 24 points, and the Pirates rallied in the second half to beat host Texas-Dallas 73-66 Saturday in the second round of the Division III Tournament.
“It’s just a lot of joy,” College said in a news release. “We have a great locker room with an amazing group of guys who are so tight. This just feels great.”
The Pirates (23-6) trailed for most of the first half and faced their largest deficit (37-30) at the break.
That’s when Whitworth went to work. College opened the half with a three-point play. Later, an 8-0 run featuring 3-pointers from Garrett Hull and Isaiah Hernandez put the Whits in front 49-46.
The Pirates hit a dry spell midway through the half, going nearly 6 minutes without scoring. This allowed the Comets (22-7) to pull in front 55-51.
But Whitworth broke the drought with 3s from Hernandez, Liam Fitzgerald and College to pull in front 60-57.
After a 3-pointer from UTD’s Jalen Weber, Hernandez sank another 3 with 4:48 left. This time, the Pirates kept the lead for good.
Whitworth made all eight of its free-throw attempts down the stretch, including four by College in the final 20 seconds.
After allowing the Comets to shoot 56% in the first half, the Pirates held the hosts to 35.5% shooting after halftime.
“We stuck with the zone (defense) in the second half and took some charges down the stretch that became the defensive stops we needed,” Whitworth head coach Damion Jablonski said.
Fitzgerald finished with 17 points, six rebounds and five assists. Hernandez scored all 13 of his points in the second half and led the team with eight boards.
Weber had 23 points and eight assists for UTD.
Whitworth made the Sweet 16 for the fifth time, the last coming in 2013.
The Pirates’ reward is trip to top-ranked Swarthmore (28-1) on Friday in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.
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