Whitworth Wins to Clinch Fourth Straight NWC Title - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Whitworth Wins to Clinch Fourth Straight NWC Title

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By: Whitworth Athletics

McMinnville, Ore. -Clinching a fourth consecutive outright Northwest
Conference championship in men's basketball with an 86-53 win at
Linfield College on Friday night, the 12th-ranked Whitworth Pirates
achieved something not accomplished in the NWC for 84 years.
Freshman George Valle scored 30 points as Whitworth improved to 21-3
overall and 13-2 in the conference and became the first NWC school with
four outright league titles since 1930.  Whitman won four in a row from
1927-1930.
The Pirates never allowed the Wildcats (4-20, 3-12) a chance in the
game, racing out to a 13-0 lead eight minutes in.  Valle had two of the
baskets in the game-opening run.  Linfield fought back to within 25-19
after Tim Pang made one of two free throws.  It is as close as the 'Cats
would get.  Valle's three-pointer in the final minute of the first half
gave Whitworth a 32-22 lead at the break.  The Bucs dominated the post
position, outscoring Linfield 22-4 in the paint in the opening period.
Dustin McConnell's three-pointer four minutes into the second half gave
Whitworth a 44-25 lead.  Zach Payne's short jumper stretched the
advantage to 55-34.  Linfield was still within 65-48 with just over five
minutes to play.  But the Pirates closed the game on a 21-5 run.
Valle had 14 points in the first half and 16 in the second half to
surpass his previous career-high of 23 points set in a win at Montana
Tech in November.  He made 12-17 shots from the field, including 2-5
from three-point range.  He was 4-5 from the free throw line.
McConnell was the only other Pirate in double figures with 11 points.
He also led the Pirates with nine rebounds, tying a career-high, and
three assists.
Whitworth made 56% (33-59) from the field, 44% (8-18) from three-point
range.  The Pirates outrebounded the Wildcats 42-33.
Linfield played without Andrew Batuik, the NWC's leading scorer, for the
fifth straight game.  Brandon Harris led the Wildcats with 17 points,
while Cory Hendryx came off of the bench for 10 points.
Whitworth became only the fourth team to win four straight NWC crowns
and only the second with four undisputed titles.  Willamette has done it
twice, but on each occasion the Bearcats shared the NWC championship two
times.  The Pirates will close the regular season on Saturday night at
Willamette.

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