By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SPOKANE, Wash. -- Whitworth University, ranked #6 in the D3hoops.com Top 25, shot 49.1% from the field and limited Willamette University to 32.8% shooting, as the Pirates improved to 16-3 with a 77-55 victory over the Bearcats on Friday, Jan. 27 at the Whitworth Fieldhouse. The Pirates upped their Northwest Conference record to 7-3, while Willamette slipped to 3-15 overall, 1-8 in the NWC.
During the game, Whitworth connected on 28 of 57 field goals. The Pirates also made 7 of 16 three-pointers (43.8%) and went 14 for 21 (66.7%) at the free throw line. Willamette put through 19 of 58 field goals. The Bearcats converted just 5 of 19 three-pointers (26.3%), but sank 12 of 16 free throws (75.0%).
Willamette held early leads of 2-0 and 4-2 on a pair of baskets by CJ Walker (So., P, Placentia, CA/Mayfair HS), but Whitworth took a 7-4 advantage on a layup by Ben Bishop and a 3-pointer by Ben College. Johnny Verduin (Sr./So., F, Seattle, WA/Ballard HS) cut the margin to a single point by hitting two free throws at the 15:27 mark.
The Pirates answered with a 12-0 run for a 19-6 lead with 10:50 left in the first half. Whitworth's run featured baskets by five different players, including one 3-pointer each by College and Derek Isaak. The lead reached 25-11 on a layup by Drew Sears with 8:29 on the clock.
Hayden Russell (Sr., W, Woodland, CA/Da Vinci Charter Academy) hit two free throw for Willamette, before the Pirates scored six consecutive points. The scoring streak opened a 7-1 run that gave Whitworth its largest lead of the half at 34-15 following a 3-pointer by Kenny Love with 5:07 left.The Pirates were in front 39-21 at halftime.
Whitworth started the second half with a 6-0 run on baskets by Love, Christian Jurlina and Sears to take a 45-21 lead with 17:57 remaining. The Bearcats outscored Whitworth 34-32 the rest of the game, but were unable to mount a comeback, as the Pirates remained in front by more than 20 points.
Four Pirates reached double figures in scoring. Jurlina and College each recorded 11 points. Isaak and Kyle Roach added 10 points apiece. Roach led all players with seven rebounds and six assists. College grabbed six rebounds, helping the Whitworth achieve a 39-35 rebounding edge.
Casey Thornton (Jr., F, Santa Rosa, CA/Maria Carrillo HS) tallied 10 points to lead the Bearcats. He was followed by Nathan Sherfey (Jr., F, Chehalis, WA/W.F. West HS) with nine points, including two 3-pointers.
Verduin provided eight points, while Russell and Jordan Jenkins (So., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS) each scored seven points. Jenkins also grabbed a team-high six boards. Trent Callan (So., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) finished with five rebounds.
Both teams committed 17 turnovers. Willamette earned nine steals, including two each by Callan, Nico Troplent (Jr., W, Los Angeles, CA/Cathedral HS) and Caleb Roberts (So., W, Salem, OR/North HS). Whitworth was credited with eight steals, as Roach and Sam Lees led the Pirates with two steals each.
The Bearcats will take on another nationally-ranked team on Saturday, Jan. 28, when they play Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, at 6 p.m. (PST). Whitman, 18-0 overall and 9-0 in the NWC, is ranked #2 in the D3hoops.com Top 25.