PORTLAND, Ore. – Randall Jackson's jumper with 32 seconds to play in overtime gave Lewis & Clark a lead it would not relinquish in Friday's 73-70 upset of 13th-ranked Whitworth in the Pamplin Sports Center.
The Pirates (20-5 overall, 14-2 Northwest Conference) had already clinched the league's regular season title and the top seed to next week's conference tournament. The Pioneers (16-8, 9-6) stayed alive for the final NWC playoff spot.
Whitworth trailed by 11 points early in the second half, but rallied to take a four-point lead before the teams went into the extra period. The Pirates then scored the first two baskets of overtime, but could not put the Pioneers away.
Whitworth struggled from the field in the opening half, shooting 39.4% overall and 20% (2-10) from three-point range. Kenny Love's jumper gave the Bucs their largest lead of the first half at 15-11. Whitworth still led 24-20 on a bucket by Taylor Farnsworth when L&C went on a 12-2 run. The Pioneers went up 32-26 on a three-pointer by Quentin Sims. Kurt Parker's layup with just over a minute to go in the half gave L&C a 38-29 lead, the same lead it would take to the locker rooms.
Sims opened the second half with a jumper, giving the Pioneers their 11-point margin. L&C still led 45-34 when Whitworth started its comeback. Love's three-pointer cut the lead to 47-46 and the Pirates retook the lead 53-52 on Adam Wilks' basket with just over ten minutes to play. When Farnsworth scored a putback to give Whitworth a 64-60 lead with 1:20 left, it appeared the Pirates were on their way to their fifth comeback from a double-digit deficit this season.
But Serg Ovchinnikov answered with an off-balance three-pointer for L&C and Bradley Carter made one of two free throws to tie the game with 51 seconds left. Both teams had a chance to make a basket in the final minute, but could not get the potential winner to go.
Christian Jurlina and Dustin McConnell scored the first two baskets of overtime for Whitworth. The Pirates still led 70-67 on a basket by George Valle with just over two minutes to go, but would not score again. Conner Freeberg got the Pioneers within one and Jackson hit the eventual game-winner. Parker iced the game with a pair of free throws with seven seconds left. McConnell's three-pointer just before the buzzer did not go.
McConnell and Love led Whitworth with 15 points each. Farnsworth finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The Pirates' shooting improved only slightly in the second half (43%) and dropped off again in overtime (33%).
Carter had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Pioneers. Freeberg finished with ten, as did Jackson off of the bench. L&C finished the game 47% from the field.
The Pioneers, who ended a 13-game losing streak to Whitworth, can clinch the NWC's fourth and final spot in the NWC tournament with a win over Whitman on Saturday night. If they do, they will face a semifinal at Whitworth next Thursday night.