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Whitworth’s dominant defense steps up in thumping of Pacific Lutheran

UPDATED: Sat., March 13, 2021

By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

The Pirates didn’t get their offense going on Saturday like they did last time out, but their defense was just fine again.

Whitworth’s men’s basketball team held the Pacific Lutheran Lutes to 31.1% shooting and allowed fewer than 50 points for the second game in a row, a 64-48 victory at the Fieldhouse.

Miguel Lopez (8-of-11 shooting) matched a season high with 22 points, and fellow senior Chewy Zevenbergen (5 for 5) added 12 off the bench to carry the Pirates on a night when starters Garrett Paxton, Liam Fitzgerald and Jerry Twenge combined for just seven points.

The victory boosted Whitworth to 9-2 in Northwest Conference games (11-5 overall) and the defeat dropped PLU to 7-2 (overall and NWC).

Following their previous game, when they beat George Fox 98-45, the Pirates came out flat against PLU.

They missed their first nine shots from the field, a streak broken by a Zevenbergen dunk that made the score 15-4.

Then the Lutes went cold. Junior Rowan Anderson keyed a 13-0 run, including a layup, that tied the score at 17. By halftime. Whitworth had a 30-26 lead.

“They’re a good team, and they punched us in the mouth early,” Whitworth coach Damion Jablonski said. “We didn’t take care of the ball and keep them off the glass, so we dug ourselves a little hole. But the guys rallied.

“They came together and really picked up their defensive intensity along with valuing the basketball more.”

Lopez scored the Pirates’ first 10 points after halftime, and a deep 3 from the wing by Paxton gave Whitworth its first double-digit lead, 45-35, with 12:09 to go. Lopez finished with nine rebounds, matching Fitzgerald for the team high.

“When he plays hard and is really locked in, especially on the defensive end, then we can be a really good team,” Jablonski said of Lopez.

PLU ended with a 40-39 rebounding advantage but made just 3 of 17 3-point attempts. Junior Jordan Thomas led the Lutes in rebounds (12) and points (10).

The teams finish their four-game season series at 1 p.m. Sunday.

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