Whitworth Holds Off Trinity to Reach DIII Sweet 16

BELTON, Texas – Jack Loofburrow scored eight points to spark a late 10-0 run that sparked 7th-ranked Whitworth out of a second half scoring slump and to a 64-53 win over Trinity in the second round of the NCAA Division III men's basketball tournament on Saturday night at the Mayborn Center on the campus of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

The Pirates, who came to this regional as the only school not from the state of Texas, improve to 26-3 and advance to their third straight NCAA Division III Sweet 16 and their fourth overall.  The Tigers, who knocked off 10-ranked UMHB on its home floor on Friday night, finish the season 21-9.

Idris Lasisi scored 17 of his game-high 22 points in the first half to help Whitworth take a 33-23 lead into the locker rooms.  He hit a pair of three-pointers to help the Bucs jump to a quick 15-5 lead.  That separation remained between eight and eleven points for most of the rest of the half before Trinity got within30-23 on a three-pointer by Matt Selling.  But Mack Larkin's offensive rebound and put back basket led to a three-point play with just over a minute to go in the period and a ten-point lead at the break for the Bucs.

Lasisi and Larkin drilled a pair of threes right out of the gate in the second half and by the time Larkin came up with a steal and acrobatic behind-the-back pass to Dustin McConnell for a fastbreak layup and another three-point play the Pirates had opened a 46-25 lead with just over 16 minutes to play in the game.

But then the Pirates got cold.  Whitworth would not make a basket for the next ten minutes of game time and Trinity took advantage.  The Tigers turned up the defensive pressure and outscored the Pirates 19-1 to pull within 47-44.  Felix Friedt hit a three of four free throws to extend Whitworth's lead back to six with just over seven minutes to go, but Jonathan Wilt hit a three to get Trinity back within three.  He had another look at a three on the next possession that would have tied the game, but missed. 

Then Loofburrow took over, hitting a long three from the left wing with 5:59 to go.  It was Whitworth's first field goal since the 16:27 mark.  Following a layup by McConnell, Loofburrow grabbed an offensive rebound and scored a putback basket, then nailed an even longer three that extended the Pirates' lead back to 60-47 with 3:51 to play.  Trinity got the lead back below 10 points once (60-51), but Lasisi and Friedt went a combined 4-4 from the line in the final two minutes to ice the game.

Lasisi hit 6-11 from three-point range to account for most of his 22 points.  He added seven rebounds and four assists.  Friedt scored 12 points and grabbed eight boards.  He was 10-12 at the free throw line as Trinity made sure Friedt would not repeat his 35-point performance on Friday.  Loofburrow finished with 13 points and five rebounds.  Wade Gebbers did not score, but dished a game-high seven assists.

Zach Lambert had 14 points for Trinity, while Selling scored 11 off of the bench.  Wilt finished with ten for the Tigers.

Whitworth will take on 6th-ranked Virginia Wesley in the Sectional Semifinal next Friday.  Wisconsin-Whitewater will play Wheaton (Ill.) in the other Sectional Semifinal.  The location of the Sectional rounds of the tournament will be announced by the NCAA on Sunday night.

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