10th-ranked Whitworth Survives Scare From PLU

SPOKANE, Wash. – Despite hitting 14 three-pointers and 58% from beyond the arc, 10th-ranked Whitworth had to survive a late shot by attempt by visiting Pacific Lutheran before hanging on for an 82-80 Northwest Conference men's basketball victory on Saturday night.

The Pirates improve to 18-3 overall and 11-1 in the NWC with their fifth straight win.  The Lutes dropped to 10-11, 7-5 following a game it had a chance to win despite never holding a lead.

Wade Gebbers hit three three-pointers in the first two minutes to help the Pirates jump out to a 12-7 lead.  But the Lutes never let the Pirates break away and James Conti's layup tied the game 14-14 before four minutes were gone.  Idris Lasisi hit a three-pointer to give Whitworth a 36-26 lead with nine minutes left in the half.  It would be the Pirates' largest lead of the game as the Lutes continued to respond, getting within 36-33 on a three-pointer by Drew Earnest.  Lasisi's two free throws put Whitworth ahead 43-35 before the Lutes closed to within 49-44 at halftime on a three-point play by Terrell Williams.

PLU scored the first two baskets of the second half to pull within 49-48.  It would be the first of six times the Lutes would get within a single point in the second half.  But they never got over the top and into the lead as Whitworth answered with a key basket on every occasion. 

Jack Loofburrow's three-pointer gave the Pirates a 68-61 lead with 12:41 to play, but Conti sparked a 6-0 PLU run with a driving layup and Whitworth would never lead by as much the rest of the game. 

Cameron Reister's three-pointer from the right side pulled PLU within 78-77 with 3:57 left, but Lasisi answered with a three of his own for the Pirates 20 seconds later.  After an exchange of missed shots, Reister hit a three from the same spot with 1:50 left to get the Lutes within one point a final time. 

Whitworth turned the ball over late in its next possession and then PLU had three good looks at a go ahead basket.  Kai Hoyt's final drive was defended and rebounded by Friedt with eight seconds left.  Whitworth worked a perfect inbounds play to Dustin McConnell and by the time the Lutes were able to foul, only 1.2 seconds were left.  Mack Larkin made one of two free throws for the final margin.

Whitworth was remarkably consistent in the game, making 14-24 from three-point range and 14-24 from two-point range.  The Pirates were 12-13 from the free throw line.

PLU hot 46% (24-52) of its shots.  But the Lutes earned 13 offensive rebounds and got to the free throw line 23 times where they converted 21 attempts.

Gebbers made 7-11 from three-point range, including a four-point play in the second half, to finish with a game-high 22 points.  Loofburrow was 5-6 from beyond the arc and totaled a season-high 21 points.  Friedt posted his 11th double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds and also led the Bucs with five assists.  Lasisi added 13 points.

Reister led PLU with 20 points and Conti scored 18 while dishing four assists.  Cameron Schilling scored 13 points and Hoyt finished with eleven.

Whitworth will head to Oregon next weekend for meetings with Linfield and Pacific on Friday and Saturday.

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