McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Trailing 40-38 with 11 minutes to play, visiting Whitworth used a 13-0 run over the next six minutes to take control in a 63-55 win at Linfield College on Saturday night at Ted Wilson Gymnasium.
The 7th-ranked Pirates improved to 15-2 overall and 7-1 in the Northwest Conference, trailing top-ranked Whitman by only one game at the halfway point of the conference schedule. Just as important, Whitworth now leads the third place Wildcats (11-5, 5-3) by two games.
Kyle Roach scored 18 of his game-high 21 points in the second half to help the Bucs claim their 20th consecutive win over Linfield.
Trailing 5-4 in the early going, Whitworth used a quick 8-0 run, including three-pointers by Garrett Hull and Roach, to go up 12-5. Linfield rallied to take a 19-18 lead on Dempsey Roggenbuck's basket before the Pirates closed the half on an 11-3 spurt. Neither team scored over the final three minutes of the period.
Linfield fought back over the first eight minutes of the second half to retake a 38-36 lead on Jordan Clark's three-pointer. There was 11 minutes to go in the game when Roggenbuck scored to give the Wildcats their 40-38 lead, but Linfield would not score again for six and a half minutes as the Whitworth defense stepped up. A Sam Lees three-pointer started the 13-0 run and gave the Pirates a lead they would never again relinquish. Roach scored seven of the points, including a three-point play that gave Whitworth a 51-40 lead with 4:38 to go. Liam O'Reilly's jumper finally ended the Linfield dry spell with 4:24 to go.
Linfield got within 59-55 with 33 seconds left, but Whitworth did not allow the Wildcats to score again. Meanwhile, Jared Christy went 4-6 at the free throw line in the final 30 seconds to clinch the victory.
The Pirates shot 49% from the field and 40% from three-point range. However, Whitworth struggled from the free throw line for most of the night and finished 13-23 (56.5%) at the charity stripe.
Christy posted his eighth double-double of the season with 13 points and 13 rebounds. College added 10 points, giving the Bucs three players in double figures.
Linfield made only 30% of its shots from the field, including 29% from three-point range. Riley Bruil led the Wildcats with 14 points, including four of the team's eight three-pointers. Clark scored 12 points and O'Reilly had 11 points off the bench.
Whitworth returns home to host Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound next weekend to begin the second half of NWC play.