SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitworth University clamped down defensively to defeat visiting Lewis & Clark College 86-60 in a Northwest Conference men's basketball game on Saturday night.
The 22nd-ranked Pirates improved to 10-3 overall and 4-0 in the NWC by holding the Pioneers (5-8, 1-3) to 36% shooting from the field and forcing 18 turnovers. The Bucs also held a 48-33 advantage in rebounding.
It was another big night for Ben College, who scored 20 of his game-high 25 points in the first half.
Trailing 13-11 in the early going, Whitworth used an 18-0 run to take control. The Pirates hit four straight three-pointers, including three by College, to pull out to a 29-13 advantage. L&C fought back to within 32-24 on a three-pointer by Jack Henderson with just under five minutes to play in the half. Whitworth was able to stretch the margin back to 15 points at the break when Sam Lees scored just before the buzzer to give the Bucs a 43-28 edge.
Whitworth's defense was especially tough in the second half as the Pirates held the Pioneers to only 29% (9-31) shooting from the floor. JT McDermott's basket two minutes into the period gave the Pirates their first 20 point lead (51-30). Whitworth led by as many as 28 points on a pair of occasions in the final minutes of the game.
"These were our best back-to-back defensive games of the season," said Whitworth head coach Damion Jablonski about Friday's 97-56 win over Willamette and tonight's victory over L&C. "We stressed being the more-ready team this weekend and our guys really tried to be ready for whatever each team brought."
McDermott supported College's scoring effort with his second double-double of the season off the bench. McDermott finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Garrett Hull and Reed Brown added ten points apiece for the Pirates, who shot 43% from the field and 32% from beyond the arc.
Matt Brown led the Pioneers with 13 points and was the only L&C player to reach double figures.
Whitworth will play its first NWC road games next weekend at George Fox and Pacific (Ore.).
"We are heading into a three-game stretch that will feature high-tempo and high pressure opposition," Jablonski said. "We will need to be locked in with the same effort and poise we showed this weekend."