SPOKANE, Wash. – Dustin McConnell scored a season-high 18 points to lead Whitworth to a 74-59 win over Southwestern in a non-conference men's basketball game on Monday night in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.
The Whitworth Pirates improve to 5-2 while the Southwestern Pirates fall to 3-5.
McConnell led three Whitworth players in double figures as the hosts built an early lead, then held off Southwestern's second half surge.
Whitworth never trailed, turning an early 6-5 advantage into a 20-8 lead just over eight minutes into the game, thanks to 11 early points by Colton McCargar. Southwestern cut the lead to 26-20 following a three-pointer by Jake Schifani with 6:09 left before the Bucs took a 37-28 lead into halftime.
Whitworth shot 53.3% in the opening period while holding the visitors to 41%. The score might've been closer, but Southwestern was only 3-7 from the free throw line at the break.
The hosts extended the lead to 11 points on four occasions early the second half, the final time on a pair of free throws by George Valle that gave Whitworth a 45-34 lead. But Southwestern began to chip away at that lead, eventually pulling within 55-53 on Eric Garza's three-pointer with just over nine minutes to play.
But Whitworth withstood the pressure and used its defense to pull away for the final margin of victory. The Pirates held Southwestern to only six points over the final nine minutes. Meanwhile McConnell scored half of his 18 points over that same period.
McConnell added four assists to go with his 18 points. McCargar finished with 14 points, while Valle totaled 13 points and a team-high six rebounds. Whitworth cooled off in the second half, making only 40% from the field after halftime. But the Pirates made up for it at the free throw line, where they hit 15-17 attempts.
Sean Myers led Southwestern with 14 points and Blake Scott finished with a double-double of 12 points and ten boards. The Pirates from Texas made 64% of their shots in the second half (14-22), but they were only 1-7 from the free throw line. Southwestern finished 5-16 from the charity stripe in the game.
Whitworth is off until after Christmas. Then the Pirates will head to Las Vegas for the D3hoops.com Classic and a match-up with #1-ranked Wisconsin-Stevens Point on December 28th.