LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Second-ranked Whitworth rallied from six points behind with ten minutes to play to defeat Mary Hardin-Baylor 68-58 on the final day of the D3hoops.com Classic at the South Point Arena.
The Pirates outscored the Crusaders 26-10 over the final ten minutes of the game to improve to 11-0. UMHB dropped to 3-6.
Whitworth looked like it might take control of the game in the first half. AJ Grant broke a 10-10 tie with a three-pointer and the Bucs extended the advantage to 17-10 after consecutive baskets by Christian Jurlina. Whitworth took its largest lead of the first period at 24-16 after a pair of George Valle free throws with three minutes to go. But the Crusaders pulled to within 28-24 at halftime, thanks mostly to Russell Green's 11 points.
Neither team shot well in the first half. Whitworth went 10-31 (32.3%) from the floor, including 3-17 (17.6%) from three-point range. UMHB was 8-29 (27.6%) overall and only 1-6 (16.7%) from beyond the arc.
The Pirates went up 40-34 early in the second half on a Jurlina three-point play. But the Crusaders went on a 14-2 run to go ahead 48-42. Green had half of those points.
Matt Staudacher's three-pointer with just under nine minutes to play stemmed the tide. Valle's layup with 7:41 to play gave the Bucs the lead for good (51-50) and Love added to that with a three-pointer. After UMHB got back within 59-56 with 2:46 to go, Love hit another three on the next Whitworth possession and the Pirates were able to pull away by making 6-8 free throws down the stretch.
The shooting got only slightly better in the second half for both teams. Whitworth finished the game 23-60 (38.3%) from the field, 8-30 (26.7%) from three-point range. UMHB was 19-59 (32.2%) from the floor and 5-14 (35.7%) from long range.
Whitworth got a balanced scoring effort. Jurlina and Love each scored 15 points, while Valle finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.
UMHB's Green finished with a game-high 22 points and added eight rebounds.
Whitworth will return home to open Northwest Conference action on Tuesday night against Whitman College in what could be a key early league contest. That game will be televised live by SWX.