PARKLAND, Wash. – A 15-0 run that spanned the end of the first half and the beginning of the second was the difference for visiting Whitworth in a 76-65 win at Pacific Lutheran on Friday night.
The 12th-ranked Pirates improved to 20-4 overall and 12-3 in the Northwest Conference. Whitworth clinched its 14th consecutive 20-win season and also earned its 29th straight victory over PLU.
"I thought we were able to turn some defense into offense and that really sparked us during that run," said Whitworth head coach Matt Logie.
The Lutes (8-15 overall, 5-10 NWC) took a 24-22 lead on Carlton Brown's three-point basket with 3:02 left in the first half. The Pirates then closed the period on an 11-0 run, sparked by a three-point play by Isaiah Hernandez and capped by a Ben College layup with 17 seconds left that gave the Bucs a 33-24 lead at the break. Chewy Zevenbergen came off the bench over the final three minutes and contributed a block, rebounds on both ends of the floor and a put-back basket.
"Chewy gave us an absolute burst of energy when we really could use it," Logie said. "He made his presence felt on offense and defense and really showed what he's capable of in the future."
Ben Bishop and Jordan Lester scored back-to-back baskets to open the second half, extending Whitworth's lead to 37-24. When Hernandez scored a layup seven minutes into the period, the Pirates took their largest lead of the game at 53-37. PLU hit three consecutive three-pointers to pull within 68-60 with 5:40 left before Whitworth pulled away again at the end. College and Hernandez combined to score the final six points over the last two minutes of the game.
After shooting only 41% (11-27) from the field in the first half, the Pirates made 63% (17-27) of their baskets after halftime. The Bucs made 52% of their shots overall, despite struggling (2-12) from three-point range. Whitworth made up for that by outrebounding PLU 37-28 and by making 18-22 of their free throws (81.8%).
College led the Pirates with 14 points, while Bishop and Lester added 13 points each. Lester also led Whitworth with seven rebounds.
"Ben Bishop played like a senior throughout this game," Logie said. "This is the best I've seen him play in his career and I'm really proud of the way he's finishing this season."
Nasseen Gutierrez-Orozco led the Lutes with 13 points off the bench. Kelton Williams, Jordan Thomas and Leighton Kingma all scored 10 for PLU.
Whitworth will close the regular season on Saturday night at Puget Sound.