Pirates Overcome Double-Digit Deficit to Win 19th Straight Game - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Pirates Overcome Double-Digit Deficit to Win 19th Straight Game

SPOKANE, Wash. - Nate Montgomery scored 15 of his game-high 23 points in the second half to lead Whitworth University to an 82-71 come-from-behind victory over the University of Puget Sound in a Northwest Conference men's basketball game on Friday night at the Whitworth Fieldhouse.

The 8th-ranked Pirates won their 19th consecutive game to improve to 20-2 overall and 13-0 in the NWC, claiming the outright conference championship. Whitworth earns the right to host both rounds of the NWC tournament, should the Pirates advance to the championship.

The visiting Loggers came out determined to prevent Whitworth from clinching on the title on this night. Puget Sound took a quick 7-2 lead on a three-pointer by Bryce Levin three minutes into the game and the Loggers would never trail in the half. UPS eventually stretched the lead to 32-21 on a three by Colin Koach with 7:25 to play. It was Whitworth's first double-digit deficit this season since a season-opening loss to Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

But Bo Gregg (Sr., F, Lewiston, Idaho) kept the Pirates within reach. He made four three-pointers in the first half and had 14 of his 22 points in the period. He answered the Koach three-pointer with one of his own and helped Whitworth eventually pull within 39-34 at halftime.

Levin hit another three early in the second half to stretch the UPS lead back to 47-39, the Loggers' largest of the second period. Whitworth then went on a 19-2 run over the next eight minutes to finally grabbed the lead away from Puget Sound. Montgomery (Sr., P, Sammamish, Wash.) gave the Pirates their first lead and David Riley followed with a jumper in the key.

Montgomery scored inside to give the Bucs a 58-50 lead with 8:52 to go. But the Loggers refused to go away and back within 64-63 on a free throw by Kaleb Shelton. Still leading by only 72-68 with 1:24 to go, the Pirates were able to pull away by making 9-10 free throws in the final minute of the game.

Montgomery made 6-11 from the floor and 11-14 from the free throw line for his 23 points. He led the Pirates with eight rebounds. Gregg's 22 points included six three-pointers. Clay Gebbers (Jr., G, Brewster, Wash.) scored 14 points and Eric Beal (Sr., G, Spokane, Wash.) scored 10 points and dished four assists.

Levin also hit six three-pointers to lead Puget Sound with 18 points. Koach added 14 points and led all players with seven assists, while Shelton scored nine and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.

The Loggers hit 47% (23-49) from the field, but struggled from the free throw line while making 54% (14-26). Puget Sound missed its first seven free throws in the second half, helping the Pirates make the game-changing run.

The Pirates also made 47% (22-47) of their shots, but were 81% (30-37) from the free throw line.

Whitworth will try to extend its winning streak to 20 games when the Pirates host Pacific Lutheran University on Saturday. Whitworth has won its third title in the last four seasons and fourth during Jim Hayford's nine seasons as a head coach for the Bucs. Whitworth now has 12 titles overall since 1983.

Puget Sound travels to play at Whitman College in Walla Walla on Saturday.

(Courtesy Whitworth Athletic Dept.)

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