SPOKANE, Wash. – Idris Lasisi scored 21 of his 27 points in the first half to help 10th-ranked Whitworth rally from a slow start to a 79-61 win over visiting Lewis & Clark in the Northwest Conference men's semifinals on Thursday night.
Lasisi tied his career high to help the Pirates improve to 23-3 overall and their tenth straight victory. The Pirates will host Puget Sound (20-7) in Saturday's NWC tournament final.
Whitworth missed 10 of its first 11 shots and L&C (14-12) took advantage, jumping to leads of 8-0 and 11-2. Marcus Wells hit the first two buckets for the Pios and Ross Erickson put his team up by nine with a three-pointer.
But Lasisi brought the Pirates back all by himself, scoring Whitworth's first 13 points to pull his team within 14-13. By the time Felix Friedt scored his second basket of the game for Whitworth the Pirates had finished off a 15-3 run to take a 17-14 lead with 8:31 to play in the half. The teams traded baskets for the next five minutes and PJ Taylor got the Pioneers within 27-22 with 3:06 to go in the period. But that is as close as L&C would get the rest of the game as Whitworth closed the half on an 8-1 run to take a 35-23 lead into the locker rooms.
After missing 10 of 11 shots to start the game, Whitworth made 11 of 19 over the rest of the half. Lasisi led the way by hitting 8 of his 12 shots and three of five from three point range for 21 at the break.
Lewis & Clark got the lead below ten points one time early in the second half when Wells, who had a huge night of his own with 27 points, drilled a three-pointer to pull the Pioneers within 39-30. But Friedt and Lasisi answered with back-to-back baskets for the Pirates and Whitworth kept a comfortable margin the rest of the game. Colton McCargar's three from the right wing with 10:38 to go gave the Bucs a 56-38 lead, their largest of the game.
Lasisi tied his career high with 27 points. He added eight rebounds and a pair of steals. Friedt finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds for his 13th double-double of the season. McCargar had eight points and three assists off of the bench.
Whitworth outrebounded L&C 46-34, including a 26-15 edge after halftime.
Wells made 8-15 from the floor and 9-10 from the free throw line for a season-high 27 points. He was the only Pioneer player in double figures as Whitworth held L&C to 33% (20-61) from the floor, 21% (6-29) from three-point range. Erickson led the Pioneers with 11 rebounds.
Whitworth will host UPS on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. The second-seeded Loggers defeated Whitman 79-62 in Thursday night's other semifinal. It will be the fourth time that Whitworth and UPS will meet in the NWC tournament final.