Pacific knocks off No. 5 Whitworth

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The Pacific University men's basketball team snapped a 16-game series losing streak to upset No. 5 Whitworth on Friday night in Spokane.

The Boxers (8-3, 2-1 NWC) led nearly the entire second half with six players in double figures – including four reserves.

Reserve sophomore J.J. Spitler led Pacific with 15 points, reserve freshman Lane Josi added 14, while reserve juniors R.J. Collins and Shayne Rixie scored 12 and 10 points, respectively to lead a Pacific bench, who outscored their Whitworth counterparts, 51-16 in the win. The 51 points by the Pacific bench are the most since a 53-point effort against Portland Bible, last year. Also in double figures for Pacific were freshman Davis Holly and senior K.C. Harrsion.

The Pirates (11-1, 1-2 NWC) was led by Kenny Love and Kyle Roach, who scored 27 and 21 points, respectively.

"Obviously, it is a special win," said Pacific coach Tim Cleary. "The competitive spirit and the love our guys have for each other is amazing."

The last win for Pacific came on Feb. 9, 2008 in Forest Grove. The Boxers earned their first win in Spokane since Jan. 23, 2004.

Midway through the first half, Pacific found themselves behind 10, 30-20 with 9:12 left in the opening half. Following a timeout by the Boxers, Pacific came back with a 22-4 run to take a 42-34 lead with 2:43 in the first 20 minutes.

"We got off to a great start and had their best post player on the bench in foul trouble," said Whitworth head coach Matt Logie.  "But we relaxed on defense which allowed them to get hot from three-point range, which turned all the momentum in their favor."

The Boxers remained in front for nearly the rest of the contest. Pacific held a four-point lead, 48-44, at the halftime break. Pacific entered the game with a 4-1 mark when leading at halftime. It was just the third time that the nationally-ranked Pirates had trailed at half on the season.

Five consecutive points by the host Pirates put Whitworth ahead 49-48 and in front for the first time since the 4:29 mark of the first 20 minutes. On the ensuing possession, Harrison and Holly hit back-to-back 3 pointers to put the Boxers back ahead and spark a 12-2 spurt.

Later in the half, the Pirates tied the game at 79 and for the first time in the contest with 3:50 to play. This time, Spitler and Pacific answered with a jumper to put the Boxers back in front for the remainder of the contest.

"But as great as it was, we are keeping everything in perspective. We have to stay in the moment and stay focused at the task at hand," said Cleary. The Boxers' next matchup will be another top 10 opponent – Whitman. The Blues enter Saturday's contest as the No. 2 ranked team in the latest poll. The two teams will tip off on Saturday at 6 p.m. in Walla Walla, Wash.