SPOKANE, Wash. – Five players scored in double figures to lead Whitworth to an 87-81 win over visiting Linfield on Saturday evening in a Northwest Conference men's basketball contest.
The balanced scoring helped the Pirates (11-2 overall, 2-2 NWC) bounce back from Friday night's loss and overcome a 28-point scoring night by Linfield's Kyle Maloof.
The Wildcats (7-6, 1-3) led for much of the first half as Maloof scored 17 of his points before halftime. A three by Maloof and another by Vince Romeo gave the visitors an early 11-6 lead. Whitworth rallied to take a 25-20 lead on Christian Jurlina's jumper, but Linfield went on a 9-2 run to retake the lead. Maloof started and ended that run with baskets. However Alberto de Miguel converted a three-point play for the Bucs in the final second of the first half to give Whitworth a 37-36 edge at the break.
Jordan Clark's three-pointer gave Linfield the lead right back at the start of the second half, but Kenny Love hit back to back three-pointers to lift Whitworth into a 49-43 advantage with 14:25 to play. The Pirates would not trail again. When Kyle Roach drove for a layup five minutes later, Whitworth had stretched the margin to 56-45 and the Bucs eventually led by 14 points (69-55) on a Roach three-pointer with 4:26 to go.
Romeo and Maloof again combined to hit back to back three-pointers in the final minute to pull the Wildcats to within 78-73, but Whitworth went 8-8 at the free throw line in the final 30 seconds to keep Linfield at bay.
"We were able to bounce back in some key areas tonight and we had some good bench contributions, which allowed us to play harder throughout the game," said Pirate head coach Matt Logie.
Love led the Pirates with 17 points, Jurlina scored 16 and Roach finished with a dozen. But much of the key contributions came from Whitworth reserves. Ben Bishop, making a start at center in place of injured Drew Sears, had 10 points and six rebounds. Ben College scored 10 off of the bench, while Benny Nick scored six and grabbed five boards.
"Our younger guys are getting more comfortable in their own skin," added Logie. "Guys like Ben (College), Benny (Nick) and Brandon (Kohler) are starting to set a good example for the rest of the guys on the bench."
Whitworth made 50.9% (27-53) of its shots from the field, 35.3% (6-17) from three-point range. The Bucs were 27-36 (75%) at the free throw line and ended with a 37-28 edge in rebounding. Whitworth dished 19 assists on the 27 baskets.
Maloof made 10 of 15 shots from the field, including 6-8 from beyond the arc, to account for most of his 28 points. He added six rebounds and three assists. Negasi Hart and Jordan Clark came off of the bench for 12 and 11 points, respectively. The Wildcats shot 47.4% (27-57) from the floor and 44.4% (12-27) from three-point range.
Whitworth will remain at home next weekend when the Pirates host Puget Sound (Friday) and Pacific Lutheran (Saturday).