SPOKANE, Wash. - Wade Gebbers scored 17 points to lead Whitworth to a season-opening 70-54 win over visiting UC Santa Cruz in a non-conference men's basketball game on Thursday night at the Whitworth Fieldhouse.
Matt Logie earned his first victory as the Pirates' head coach as his team took the lead three minutes into the game and never trailed after that.
After the Banana Slugs (0-2) grabbed an early 6-5 lead on a three-pointer by Trent Reeves, Whitworth went on a 12-0 run that included three-pointers by Jack Loofburrow and Idris Lasisi to open a 17-6 advantage. The Pirates stretched that lead to as many as 19 points (31-12) just over 11 minutes into the game following a Loofburrow lay up. But UCSC, which nearly defeated NCAA Div. I UC Davis on Tuesday night, fought back to within 40-30 at halftime following a jumper by Brent Jacobs.
Whitworth quickly jumped out to a 20-point lead (53-33) early in the second half following a fast break lay up by Mack Larkin. The Bucs took their largest lead of the game at 59-38 on Colton McCargar's drive to the basket with 11:44 to play. But Whitworth went cold over the next seven minutes of the game and did not score again until Larkin hit a basket with 4:50 to go. But the Pirate defense only allowed UCSC to pull within 14 points at that point. Whitworth then regained control and led 70-51 with just over two minutes to play.
Gebbers made 5 of 7 from three point range to account for most of his team-high 17 points. Lasisi was the only other Pirate player in double figures with 11 points. Zach Payne came off of the bench to lead Whitworth with a game-high nine rebounds as the Pirates out-boarded the Banana Slugs 44-22, including a 15-2 edge in offensive rebounds.
The Pirates demonstrated great scoring balance in the game. Eleven different players made a basket for Whitworth, every player that saw more than one minute of playing time in the game.
Reeves made 6 of 7 from three point range for UCSC to lead all players with 18 points. Tyler Hunt scored 10 points and Jacobs led his team with six rebounds.
Whitworth will return to action on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. when the Pirates host Washington University of St. Louis in a game that will be televised live locally on cable channel SWX.