McMINNVILEE, Ore. - (From Linfield SID Office) It took 22 years for a Northwest Conference school to go unbeaten in league play and Whitworth University only one season to duplicate that feat. The Pirates concluded an unbeaten NWC schedule with a 77-53 win at second-place Linfield College on Saturday night at Ted Wilson Gym.
The 7th-ranked Pirates improved to 23-3 overall and 16-0 in the NWC. Only the 2009 Puget Sound team had previously gone 16-0 in conference play. Prior to that, the last unbeaten conference team was Willamette (10-0) in 1987-88.
Whitworth, currently riding a 22-game winning streak, will host Lewis & Clark on Thursday in one NWC semi-final, while second-place Linfield (12-12, 10-6) hosts George Fox in the other semifinal.
The Pirates took control early and never looked back, opening up a 45-23 lead going into halftime. Whitworth knocked down nine 3-pointers in the opening stanza while shooting 51.9 percent from the floor.
Whitworth started off the game by hitting six 3-pointers over the first seven minutes of action. Eric Beal sunk a pair of triples to give the Pirates an early 9-3 advantage. The Pirates extended the lead to 16-5 on a David Riley layup at the 14:04 mark.
After a basket by Drew Schroeder trimmed the deficit to nine, K.C. Wiser completed a three-point play to cut Whitworth's lead to 16-10.
The Wildcats would get no closer the rest of the evening.
Following an exchange of free throws, the Pirates rolled off a 9-0 spurt. Beal and Nate Montgomery capped off the run with back-to-back 3-pointers, giving Whitworth a 27-12 advantage with 9:26 to play in the half.
The conference's top scoring team continued to cruise, with the lead ballooning to as many as 23 late in the first half and as many as 27 (68-41) in the second period.
The Pirates finished the game with a 48.1 percent clip from the field, in addition to knocking down 11-of-26 3-pointers. Beal led the way with a game-high 18 points. Montgomery, Riley, Jack Loofburrow and Bo Gregg all tallied double-digit scoring totals.
Linfield was held to just 34.7 percent shooting. While the Pirates were draining 3-pointers, the ‘Cats struggled to find their shot, making just 3-of-20 attempts from beyond the arc. Wiser scored a team-high 12 points for the Wildcats.