SPOKANE, Wash. – Taylor Farnsworth totaled 16 points and seven rebounds to lead 11th-ranked Whitworth to a come-from-behind 77-67 win over visiting Hamline in a non-conference men's basketball game on Monday afternoon.
Farnsworth's career-high point total helped the Pirates rally from an early seven-point deficit and improve to 10-1 with their tenth straight win. Dior Ford scored a game-high 18 points for the visiting Pipers, who dropped to 5-4 and went 1-1 on their holiday trip to Washington State.
"It is great to see Taylor continue the good play that he started in California," said Whitworth head coach Matt Logie referring to Whitworth's three wins before the Christmas break. "He has really stepped up offensively and on the boards."
Hamline came out of the gate making 7 of 10 shots on the way to a 20-13 lead following a three-pointer by Tyler Pannell, one of four he would hit in the first half. Whitworth rallied to tie the game 22-22 on a layup by Zach Payne, but the Pipers went out front again 27-22 after a pull-up jumper by Ford. Whitworth went back up 28-27 following a short jumper from Mack Larkin and the teams went to the locker rooms tied 33-33.
The first half included four lead changes. Hamlin shot 52% (14-27) in the first period, including 46% (5-11) from beyond the arc. Whitworth was 48% (14-29) from the field, but only 2-7 (29%) from three-point range.
The Pirates warmed up from three-point range in the second half, making four during a 15-6 run out of the gate that gave Whitworth a 48-39 lead. George Valle hit two of those threes for the Bucs. Whitworth stretched the lead to 54-43 after Dustin McConnell sank a pair of free throws following a technical foul against Hamline's Wesley Pinera. The Pirates took their largest lead (62-47) on a Farnsworth layup with just over eight minutes to go.
"We have grinders on this team who relish the battle and we've been able to put together important runs this season when we've needed to," Logie said.
But then it was Hamline's turn to rally. The Pipers turned up the defensive pressure, holding the Pirates to only six points over the next seven minutes. When Ryan Welsh drained a three from the corner Hamline had pulled within 65-59 with 4:24 to go. Pinera's two free throws with 1:37 to go got the Pipers within 68-65. Farnsworth answered for the Pirates with a score inside with a minute to play and Hamline coach Nelson Whitmore was whistled for a technical after vehemently arguing the play. He was subsequently given a second technical, allowing Whitworth's McConnell to shoot four free throws. McConnell made three of those to essentially seal the victory for the Pirates.
Farnsworth led five Pirates who reached double figures in scoring. McConnell finished with 15 points after going 10-12 at the free throw line and dished five assists. Valle totaled 14 points while Larkin contributed 11 points and five boards. Wade Gebbers finished with 10 points, six assists and five rebounds. Whitworth shot 57% in the second half to finish the game 52% (27-52) from the field. The Pirates were 5-9 (56%) from beyond the arc in the second half.
Ford made 8-11 from the field and two free throws for his 18 points. Noah Aguirre added 14 points and Pannell finished the game with the 12 points he scored in the opening half. Victor Easter had eight points, seven rebounds and five assists. Hamline shot 43% in the second half and finished the game 47% (27-57) from the field. The Pipers were only 2-11 from three-point range after halftime.
"Our defense didn't start out the way we'd like, but we turned up the intensity level a got some stops in the second half to be able to build our lead," Logie said.
Whitworth will return to Northwest Conference play this coming weekend with games at Pacific (Ore.) on Friday and Lewis & Clark on Saturday.