SALEM, Ore. – Colton McCargar scored 20 points to lead five players in double figures as Northwest Conference champion Whitworth closed out the regular season with an 86-67 win at Willamette on Saturday night.
The 12th-ranked Pirates improved to 22-3 overall and finish the NWC season with a 14-2 record. The Bearcats end their season 7-18, 4-12 and on an eight-game losing streak.
Whitworth never trailed for the second game in a row, jumping out to a 8-1 lead following McCargar's layup. Taylor Farnsworth's basket gave the Bucs their first double-digit lead at 20-9. Mack Larkin's jumper gave Whitworth a 29-15 lead, its largest of the first half. The Pirates took a 36-24 lead into the break. The Bearcats were held to 32% (7-22) shooting in the first half.
"I'm pleased that our defensive identity returned this weekend and we could build some positive momentum heading into the post season," said head coach Matt Logie.
Whitworth opened the second half on a 7-2 run, taking a 43-26 lead on Dustin McConnell's jumper. Willamette got within 45-35 on Sean Dart's basket with 15 minutes left. But that is as close as the Bearcats would get. McCargar's basket stretched the lead back to 63-43 with less than nine minutes to play and the Pirates were never threatened again.
McCargar made 7-10 from the field and 3-5 from three-point range for his career-high 20 points, surpassing the 19 he had in a win over Whitman on January 8th.
McConnell finished with 15 points and six assists, while Larkin had 12 points and six rebounds. Farnsworth added 12 points and George Valle finished with 10 points and six boards. Whitworth shot 53% (31-59) from the field and 82% (18-22) from the free throw line. The Pirates outrebounded Willamette 33-29.
Perhaps most important for Logie, he was able to play deep into his bench throughout the game and won without senior guard Wade Gebbers, who was held out for precautionary reasons.
"Tonight we got terrific defensive energy and production from a lot of guys," Logie said. "Colton and Dustin really led the charge offensively and we had good offensive balance."
Terrell Malley scored a game-high 31 points in his final contest in a Bearcat uniform. Elliot Babcock-Krenk added 11 points and five rebounds.
Whitworth is the top seed in the upcoming NWC tournament and will host a semifinal at 7:00 pm on Thursday night against fourth-seeded Lewis & Clark College.