Hot First Half Lifts Whitworth Over Linfield

SPOKANE, Wash. – Fourth-ranked Whitworth hit nine of 13 three-point attempts in the first half to open an insurmountable halftime lead on the way to an 80-50 victory over visiting Linfield on Saturday night.

The Pirates improved to 16-1 overall and 8-0 in the Northwest Conference with their 16th straight victory.  The Wildcats dropped to 3-14, 2-6.

Wade Gebbers set the early tone for Whitworth, hitting a pair of three pointers that gave the Pirates an early 11-3 lead.  A Robby Douglas three stretched the lead to 19-5 before back to back three-pointers from Colton McCargar and George Valle increased the advantage to 31-13 with just under six minutes to play.  Dustin McConnell's basket just before the buzzer gave Whitworth a 48-19 lead at the break.

The Pirates made 63% (19-30) of their shots in the first half, 69% (9-13) from beyond the arc.  McCargar had three of those long balls for 11 points before halftime.  Meanwhile the Whitworth defense held Linfield to 35% (8-23) from the field in the first half and forced the Wildcats into eight turnovers.

"Our defensive intensity was really what keyed our offense," said Whitworth head coach Matt Logie.  "We were able to limit easy opportunities for their big scorers and our ball movement set up open shots."

A quick 7-0 run to open the second half gave the Bucs their largest lead (54-19) on a lay up by Valle.  Linfield clawed back to within 62-40 on a basket by Andrew Batiuk with 8:30 to play, but the Wildcats would get no closer.

McCargar finished with 13 points, as did Taylor Farnsworth, to lead Whitworth in scoring.  Douglas added 12 points off of the bench.  Farnsworth, McConnell and Zach Payne all had five rebounds for the Pirates, who ended the game with a 38-33 advantage on the boards.

Zach Meikle led Linfield with a game-high 17 points, while Batiuk posted a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. 

Whitworth finished the game with only seven turnovers, which was an emphasis this week according to Logie.

The current 16-game winning streak is the third-longest in school history. 

The Pirates, who hold a two game lead in the NWC standings at the halfway point on the conference schedule, will open the second half of league play next weekend at Puget Sound (Friday) and Pacific Lutheran (Saturday).