SPOKANE, Wash. – The third time was the charm for the Whitworth men's basketball team on Saturday night against visiting George Fox. The third-ranked Pirates had three opportunities to put away the Bruins and did so on their third try in an 89-77 win on Saturday night in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.
Kyle Roach scored 27 of his career-high 32 points in the second half to help the Pirates improve to 13-2 overall and 5-1 in the NWC.
Whitworth took a 15-point lead in the first half and a 17-point advantage in the second, but each time George Fox (5-10, 1-5) narrowed the gap to almost nothing. But when Garret Hull converted a pair of free throws with 2:22 left to play, the Pirates had rebuilt an 89-72 lead and had finally put the game away.
Whitworth made four of its first five three-pointers, including three in a row by Hull, and grabbed a double-digit lead (14-4) before the game was five minutes old. When Sam Lees converted a three-point play, the Bucs had opened a 24-9 advantage eight minutes into the game. But George Fox fought all the way back to tie the game 31-31 on a pair of free throws from Thomas Rico, taking advantage of an extended Whitworth cold spell. The Pirates rebounded to take a 41-35 lead at halftime when Roach hit his first three-pointer just before the first half buzzer.
Whitworth appeared ready to take over the game in the opening minutes of the second half, quickly rebuilding a double-digit margin. When Jared Christy converted a three-point play, the Pirates had opened their largest lead of the game (60-43) just over five minutes into the second half. But George Fox responded with a quick 7-0 run and eventually trimmed the margin all the way back to 70-67 on a Thomas Rico three-pointer. Whitworth retook control with its own 8-0 run and Roach's final three-pointer of the game was followed by Hull's free throws that extended the lead back to 17 points.
"Our guys realized that amid the momentum swings of a game like this, when we would execute our game plan we would bounce back from their runs and rebuild our lead," said Whitworth head coach Matt Logie.
Roach went 9-14 from the field in the second half, including 3-6 from beyond the arc. His 32 points surpassed his previous career high of 29. Four other Pirates reached double figures, including Sam Lees who had 15 off of the bench. Hull finished with 13 points and Ben College had 11. Jared Christy added 10 points and grabbed a season-high 17 rebounds – his seventh double-double of the year. College and Christy dished five assists each while Hull had four.
"I thought Sam had a terrific game and made good offense decisions, while Garrett had a strong all-around performance and sparked us with his quick start," Logie said. "I loved how Jared dominated the boards. Kyle took advantage of our halftime adjustments to their zone defense and was very aggressive."
Mason Green-Richards led George Fox with 20 points and six assists. Rico added 14 points, while Ryan Lacey scored 11.
Whitworth earned its eighth win in a row over the Bruins. The Pirates will close out the first half of the Northwest Conference schedule with games at Willamette and Linfield next weekend.