Pirate Men Rally Twice to Defeat L&C 76-64 - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Pirate Men Rally Twice to Defeat L&C 76-64

Whitworth's Christian Jurlina scored 27 points for the Pirates, who rallied to beat L&C. (Photo: Whitworth) Whitworth's Christian Jurlina scored 27 points for the Pirates, who rallied to beat L&C. (Photo: Whitworth)

by Whitworth Athletics

SPOKANE, Wash. – Rallying from seven point deficits in each half, 2nd-ranked Whitworth gutted out a 76-64 win over visiting Lewis & Clark College in the Northwest Conference men’s basketball opener for both schools on Friday night in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.

Christian Jurlina scored 27 points for the Pirates, who improved to 6-0 overall and 1-0 in the NWC.  Whitworth played without 2015 NWC Player of the Year Kenny Love for the third game in a row.  Love continues to be day-to-day.

“It’s a credit to our guys’ experience that they didn’t panic when L&C went on those runs,” said Whitworth head coach Matt Logie.  “They trust our system and each other, and it paid off tonight.”

The Pioneers (2-4 overall, 0-1 NWC), who met Whitworth in last year’s NWC tournament final, led for much of the first half.  L&C took a 26-19 lead on a layup by All-NWC forward Carl Appleton, who was making his first appearance for the Pioneers after finishing up in football.  The lead was still 32-25 after a three-pointer by Cory Coombe.  But Whitworth closed the first half on a 12-3 run, taking a 37-35 lead into the locker rooms after Jurlina hit a jumper at the buzzer.

But the Pioneers opened the second half on their own 12-3 run, including a pair of three-pointers by Alex Jones.  Trailing 47-40 Whitworth fought back to retake the lead with an 18-0 run.  Kyle Roach hit consecutive baskets during the run and George Valle finished it off with a three-pointer and two free throws that gave Whitworth a 58-47 lead with 10:19 to play in the game.

“The guys built momentum on the defensive end and it carried over to our offense,” Logie said.

L&C got back to within eight points twice in the final five minutes, the last time after a three-point play by Coombe pulled the Pioneers to within 72-64 with 2:25 left.  But Valle answered with a jumper to stem any hope of a final comeback.

Jurlina scored 20 of his points in the first half and finished two points shy of his career high.  He added four assists and two steals.  Matt Staudacher finished with 17 points and Roach had 13 off of the bench.  Valle’s 11 points gave Whitworth four players in double figures.  Roach led the Bucs with nine rebounds, a career-high for the freshman.

After shooting only 42% (14-33) in the first half, the Pirates improved to 50% (13-26) in the second half.  Whitworth was also 16-18 (89%) from the free throw line.

Coombe scored 13 points off of the bench to lead the Pioneers.  Markel Leonard added 11 points, while Appleton finished with 10 rebounds.  L&C dropped from 41% (14-34) shooting in the first half to 32% (10-31) after halftime.  The Pioneers struggled from the free throw line, making only 8-20 (40%), which may have been the difference in the game.

Whitworth will try to keep its winning streak intact when the Pirates host Linfield College on Saturday night.  Meanwhile Lewis & Clark will travel to play at Whitman.

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