PORTLAND, Ore. – 11th-ranked Whitworth started fast, but finished even faster while rolling to a 79-59 men's basketball win at Lewis & Clark on Saturday night.
The Pirates improved to 16-3 overall and 9-1 in the Northwest Conference, keeping at least a two-game lead in the standings. The Pioneers fell to 10-9, 5-5.
Whitworth hit its first six shots from the field, including four three-pointers, to open up an 18-7 lead less than five minutes into the game. Wade Gebbers and Idris Lasisi had two three-pointers each during the run. But L&C would end up being almost as hot as the Pirates in the first half. The Pioneers used three straight three-pointers of their own to come back and tie the game 32-32. Ross Erickson's layup gave L&C its first lead of the game (38-36) with 4:05 to play in the half. Colton McCargar answered with a three for Whitworth and the Pirates eventually took a 46-44 lead into the locker rooms.
Whitworth's second-highest scoring first half of the season was highlighted by 71% (17-24) shooting from the floor, 62% (8-13) from three point range. L&C made 58% (18-31) of its shots, including 43% (6-14) from beyond the arc. The Pioneers took advantage of a 7-3 edge in turnovers in the period to stay close. The Pirates' highest-scoring first half of the season was 50 points in an 88-66 win over Washington (Mo.) on November 20th.
The game turned in the second half when Whitworth was still nearly as good on offense, and perhaps even better on defense. The Pirates continued their torrid shooting after halftime, making 62% (13-21) from the floor in the second half. Whitworth was more selective from three-point range after halftime, but still made 5-8 (63%).
Meanwhile the Whitworth defense held L&C to only 19% (6-31) in the second half, 10% (1-10) from three-point range. The Pirates outrebounded the Pioneers 19-14 after halftime.
McCargar's second three of the game gave Whitworth its first double-digit lead (63-51) with just over nine minutes to play. The Bucs continued to stretch the lead, opening a 71-55 advantage on Lasisi's three with 4:58 left. The final margin owas the largest of the game. Whitworth held Lewis & Clark to only eight points over the final fourteen minutes.
Felix Friedt had 20 points and eight rebounds to lead all players in both categories. Lasisi added 16 points, Gebbers had 13 and Dustin McConnell scored 12 for Whitworth. The Pirates had 20 assists as a team out of 30 total made baskets. Mack Larkin had six of those, while McConnell and Lasisi each had five.
Donato Perconti came off of the bench to lead L&C with 11 points, while PJ Taylor scored ten.
Whitworth will return home to host Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran, a pair of NWC playoff contenders, next Friday and Saturday in the Fieldhouse.