SPOKANE, Wash . - On a night when Whitworth honored the past, Felix Friedt made sure the Pirates' future remained bright as he led his team to a 77-69 win over visiting Lewis & Clark in the Northwest Conference men's basketball opener Friday night at the Whitworth Fieldhouse.
The 8th-ranked Pirates improved to 5-0 overall and 1-0 in the NWC while claiming their 40th straight win at home.
During halftime the school recognized the accomplishments of former head coach Jim Hayford with a courtside ceremony. He led Whitworth to five NWC titles and six NCAA Div. III tournament appearances between 2002-11.
But Lewis & Clark (3-3, 0-1) came determined to spoil the party. The Pioneers, who played very close at NCAA Div. I University of Portland on Tuesday night, bounced back from an early 17-4 deficit to take a 29-27 lead into halftime. Marcus Wells scored 11 points off of the bench to spark the comeback. L&C made 46% (13-28) of its shots in the period while holding the Pirates to 36% (10-28).
But then Friedt took over for Whitworth in the second half, scoring 14 of his game-high 23 points and grabbing six of his 10 rebounds. The Pirates improved to 53% shooting after halftime and outscored L&C 50-40. Friedt helped Whitworth finish with a 28-20 edge in points in the paint.
After the Pirates had taken a 54-43 lead midway through the second half, L&C fought back to within 61-58 with just under six minutes to play. But Wade Gebbers answered with a key three-pointer and Friedt followed with a lay up to extend the advantage back to 66-58. The Pioneers got back within 66-63 with a little over two minutes left, but the Pirates hit 9-10 free throws from there to keep the visitors at-bay.
Friedt made 7-13 shots from the field and 9-11 from the free throw line. Gebbers finished with 17 points, seven assists and two steals. The Pirates finished with a 35-30 edge in rebounding.
James Hollins led L&C with 19 points, while Wells added 17 points - ten points above his season scoring average. Wells led his team with six rebounds. Ross Jackson scored 14 and Caron Rayford finished with 11.
Notes: Whitworth's 40-game home court winning streak is the second-longest in school history behind the 45-game winning streak from 1996-1998. The Pirates have now won the last seven meetings with L&C. Friedt was one point short of his season high of 24 that he scored in last week's win over Chapman. George Fox, Whitworth's opponent on Saturday night, won 57-48 at Whitman on Friday night.
Up Next: Whitworth will host George Fox on Saturday in the Fieldhouse at 8:00 pm.