SPOKANE, Wash. – Dustin McConnell and Colton McCargar combined for 40 points to lead 4th-ranked Whitworth to an 88-69 win over visiting Willamette in a Northwest Conference men's basketball game on Friday night.
McConnell had 23 points and McCargar had 17 for the Pirates, who improved to 15-1 overall and 7-0 in the NWC with their 15th straight win. The Bearcats, who came into the night tied for second in the conference standings, fell to 6-9, 3-3.
"Our ball movement and decision making was very solid, which led to great shots for Dustin and Colton," said Whitworth head coach Matt Logie.
A Wade Gebbers three-pointer gave the Bucs an early 16-9 lead, but Willamette hit nine of its first 11 shots of the half to rally ahead 20-18 on a jumper by Terrell Malley. The teams traded leads over the next six minutes until Sean Dart's free throw got the Bearcats within 29-28. From that point the Pirates outscored Willamette 15-1 over the rest of the first half to head into the locker rooms with a 44-29 advantage. After starting the half making 9-11 from the field, Willamette only made 2-11 over the rest of the period.
"I thought our focus defensively and on the glass was solid today, which led to transition opportunities," Logie said. "Mack Larkin did a very good job defensively and defended multiple positions for us."
Alex Hansen's three-pointer at 14:15 of the second half pulled the Bearcats to within 52-40. That was as close as Willamette would get as Whitworth went on a 17-5 run over the next four minutes to open up a 69-45 lead with 9:37 to go. McConnell scored 12 of those 17 points and McCargar had the other five.
Whitworth would finish the game making 50% (32-64) of its shots from the field and 50% (8-16) from three-point range. The Pirates hit 16-20 free throws (80%) and outrebounded the Bearcats 37-31. Whitworth also only committed six turnovers, while forcing Willamette into 17.
George Valle added 16 points and six rebounds for the Pirates, while Gebbers dished seven assists.
Dart and Elliot Babcock-Krenk scored 13 points each for the Bearcats. Dart led his team with six boards, while Trevor Bos came off of the bench for five assists. Willamette made 47% (25-53) from the field, 39% (9-23) from three-point range. The Bearcats struggled somewhat at the free throw line (10-17 – 59%).
Whitworth's win was its ninth straight over Willamette.
The Pirates will conclude the first half of their Northwest Conference schedule by hosting Linfield on Saturday at 6:00 pm. The Bearcats travel to Walla Walla to play Whitman on Saturday.