Whitworth Survives Pacific's Surge

Photo by Andrew Smith (Wis.-Whitewater)

FOREST GROVE, Ore. – Whitworth held off a second half surge by Pacific University to pick up an 80-77 Northwest Conference road victory on Friday night at the Stoller Center.

The sixth-ranked Pirates got a second-straight career scoring night from Taylor Farnsworth to improve to 11-1 overall and 3-0 in the NWC.  The Boxers, playing their first conference game of the season, dropped to 6-4.

Whitworth led 60-43 with just over 12 minutes to play, but Pacific rallied to within three points three times in the final two minutes.  Farnsworth scored 17 of his game-high 29 points in the second half to help the Pirates hold on for the win.

Farnsworth sparked Whitworth in the early going as well, scoring 10 points as the Bucs raced out to a 17-6 lead.  Pacific set a tone for the second half by rallying in the first.  Coby Proctor hit three three-pointers in the opening period, including one that gave the Boxers a 26-24 lead.  But Colton McCargar also hit three three-pointers in the half for Whitworth and the Pirates responded to take a 35-30 lead into halftime.  The lead might have been larger, but the Pirates went 0-5 at the free throw line in the first half.

Wade Gebbers nailed three three-pointers in the opening minutes of the second half to get Whitworth out of the gate quickly.  When McCargar hit his fourth three of the game the Pirates had taken their 17 point lead (60-43) with 12:30 to play.

 Then the Boxers began to chip away at the lead, especially when they held Whitworth at 74 points for nearly three minutes late in the contest.  Another Proctor three-pointer got Pacific within 74-66 with 3:21 to play and Colin Wester's three-point play pulled his team within 74-70 with 2:30 to go. 

But after struggling at the free throw line in the first half, Whitworth hit 14 of 16 in the second half, including 6-8 in the final 1:21.  Dustin McConnell's two freebies with 6.5 seconds left gave the Bucs an 80-75 lead that essentially sealed the win.

Farnsworth hit 12-17 from the field and 5-7 from the free throw line to easily surpass his previous season high of 16 points set in the Pirates' previous game.  He added seven rebounds.  His strong shooting night was a big reason the Bucs finished with 32 points in the paint and shot 57% (29-51) from the field as a team.

Gebbers and McCargar scored 16 points apiece with McCargar adding five boards.  The pair combined for seven threes as Whitworth went 8-16 from three-point range.  McConnell finished with eight points and a game-high eight rebounds.

Pacific came into the game as the top rebounding team in the NWC with an average margin of +11.4.  But Whitworth outboarded the Boxers 34-27, which helped offset the fact that the Pirates committed 19 turnovers.

Wester and Proctor each scored 19 points for Pacific, while Danny Brakebush added 11 points and five rebounds.  The Boxers also hit 50% (9-18) of their three-pointers, including 4-6 by Proctor.

Whitworth will conclude its trip to Oregon on Saturday with a game at Lewis & Clark.  Tipoff is set for 6:00pm following the women's contest between the Pirates and Pioneers.