Four minutes into their game on Saturday night, and arguably even sooner than that, it was quite clear that there would be no second-night letdown for the Whitworth men’s basketball team.
Whitworth scored on its first nine possessions, building a 16-point lead that steadily grew to its peak: a 53-point margin in the final minute of a 98-45 victory over George Fox at the Fieldhouse.
“I like that we put together a 40-minute game, and we haven’t necessarily done that even in our best games yet,” Whitworth coach Damion Jablonski said. “We didn’t have lulls where we were playing beneath ourselves.”
Six minutes into the game, the Bruins had called as many timeouts as they had made field goals – two – and the Pirates were ahead 25-4.
“We were just goin’ on the defensive end, and that just carried over,” Pirates senior Miguel Lopez said. “I looked up at the score and I saw my teammate Jerry (Twenge) has 12 points and I thought, ‘How’d that happen?’ ”
It happened because, as Jablonski put it, the sophomore Twenge – who set a career high with 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting – was doing exactly what he should have been doing.
“When our team is playing well, he steps up and makes the plays when they’re appropriate,” Jablonski said of the Mt. Spokane graduate. “I think Jerry’s performance, obviously, he’s a great player, but it really is a product of our team playing unselfish, offensive basketball.”
That they were. The Pirates (10-5, 8-2 Northwest Conference) set a season high with 25 assists and shot 41 of 69 from the field, their second-highest percentage (59.4) of the season. They also held the Bruins (0-2, 0-2) to 28.1% shooting from the field.
Lopez matched Twenge’s scoring output with 19 points and added 10 rebounds for his second double-double with the Pirates. Lopez also had a season-high three steals.
“He was definitely locked in tonight,” Jablonski said of Lopez.
Whitworth’s bench players scored 44 points, led by senior Tanner Fogle’s 15 on 6-of-7 shooting.
The team superlatives were many: Whitworth’s highest scoring output since a 98-95 victory over Linfield on Jan. 24, 2020; its largest margin of victory since a 105-51 win over Cal Lutheran on Nov. 14, 2019; and its first back-to-back 30-point conference victories since beating George Fox 91-57 and Pacific Lutheran 93-62 in January 2016.
Most of the game Saturday the Pirates had twice as many points as the undermanned Bruins, who were still without their top two returning scorers from last season. JD Ahlstrom led George Fox with 14 points.
It was Whitworth’s 15th consecutive victory over the Bruins, whose season is just beginning.
The Pirates are headed toward their final four games, all at the Fieldhouse: two next weekend against Pacific Lutheran and March 19 and 20 against Whitman.
“All week we’ve been focused on making the extra pass and just trying to get a better shot,” Twenge said. “We just haven’t felt like our offense has found its peak yet, and I think this week has been a great start to that.”
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