SPOKANE, Wash. – Felix Friedt posted a career-high 29 points to lead 10th-ranked Whitworth to a 93-65 win over visiting Willamette in the Northwest Conference men's regular season final on Saturday night.
The Pirates improve to 22-3 overall and 15-1 in the NWC and will host Lewis & Clark (14-11) in a Northwest Conference semifinal next Thursday. Willamette ends the season 5-20, 3-13.
Playing in the final regular-season home game of his career, Friedt made 9-11 from the field, including a three-pointer on the game's opening play, and 10-11 from the free throw line. He also led all players with 13 rebounds and six assists.
The teams exchanged leads in the opening minutes and Willamette went up 11-9 on Terrell Malley's layup. Whitworth took the lead on Mack Larkin's layup to make it 13-11 before Noah Ripley's three-pointer tied the game for the final time at 18-18. Jack Loofburrow scored five as the Pirates then hit for seven straight points and Whitworth never trailed again. The Bucs took a 40-32 lead into the locker rooms following Dustin McConnell's drive to the basket in the final minute.
Felix scored the first basket of the second half to give Whitworth its first double-digit lead and the Bucs extended the advantage to 58-42 on McConnell's three-pointer. Willamette fought back to within 11 points three times over the next four minutes, the final time on Malley's free throws with 10:15 to go that pulled the Bearcats within 65-54.
But Whitworth would outscore Willamette 28-11 the rest of the way. Friedt's layup gave the Bucs a 73-56 lead and Colton McCargar's three-pointer extended the advantage to 78-58. The Pirates' final margin was their largest of the game.
Friedt, Loofburrow, Idris Lasisi and Michael Taylor were all honored as seniors playing in the final regular season home contest prior to tip off. Loofburrow added 18 points, while Lasisi scored a dozen. Taylor finished with five points and five boards.
McConnell had 12 points and Larkin 10 for the Pirates, who made 53% (36-68) of their shots from the field and had a 45-29 edge in rebounds.
Malley and Taylor Mounts each scored 15 points for Willamette, while Ryan Meehan added nine. Mounts led the Bearcats with nine rebounds.
Thursday's semifinal against Lewis & Clark will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Fieldhouse. The other NWC semifinal features #3 Whitman traveling to #2 Puget Sound.