Whitworth Claims Seventh-Straight NWC Championship - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Whitworth Claims Seventh-Straight NWC Championship

Christian Jurlina led four Pirates in double figures with 18 points. Christian Jurlina led four Pirates in double figures with 18 points.

Whitworth University Athletics

PARKLAND, Wash. – Kenny Love's steal with four seconds to play helped seal a 73-71 win for visiting Whitworth over Pacific Lutheran on Saturday night, clinching an outright Northwest Conference men's basketball championship for the Pirates.

Third-ranked Whitworth held off a late PLU comeback and finished the regular season 24-1 for only the second time in school history.  The Bucs won an unprecedented seventh consecutive conference title with a 15-1 mark.

"It's humbling and I'm proud to be part of this group," said Whitworth head coach Matt Logie.  "When you are in the middle of the chase and you see the work these kids put into it, you appreciate what this means.  Their personal growth throughout this journey is what made them such a great team this year.  They deserve this."

Christian Jurlina led four Pirates in double figures with 18 points.  George Valle scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half.

Whitworth built a ten-point lead in the first half and went up by as many as twelve points in the second period.  But the Lutes continued to fight back.  Brandon Lester and Dylan Foreman each hit long three-pointers in the final minute of the game to pull the Lutes to within 72-70.  Love was then called for a charge with 30 seconds to play in the game, giving PLU a chance to win or tie.

The Lutes' first attempt to tie was foiled by Drew Sears, who blocked Bryce Miller's shot out of bounds with 14 seconds left.  The inbounds went out to Foreman above the three-point line.  The Pirates applied defensive pressure and Love then stepped in front of the pass with four seconds left to play. 

Love was soon fouled and made one of two free throws with 2.5 seconds left.  On the ensuing inbounds pass Whitworth chose to foul Foreman rather than risk a miracle three-pointer.  Foreman made one of his two attempts and Whitworth was able to run out the remaining 1.7 seconds.

Love finished with 10 points, three assists and three steals.  Sears added 10 points and five blocked shots.  The Pirates hit nearly 57% of their shots in the second half to finish the game 25-53 (47.2%) from the field. 

Lester scored a game-high 24 points for PLU (16-9 overall, 9-7 NWC).  Foreman finished with 17 points and Miller totaled 14 points and eight rebounds.  The Lutes finished the game 23-53 (43.4%) from the field, but made 50% (8-16) of their three-pointers.

Whitworth will host Puget Sound in the NWC semifinal on Thursday night at 7:00 pm in the Fieldhouse.  PLU heads to the conference tournament as the #3 seed and will head to second-seeded Whitman.

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