SPOKANE, Wash. – Christian Jurlina scored 26 points to lead 5th-ranked Whitworth to a 91-70 win over visiting George Fox in a Northwest Conference men's basketball game on Friday night.
The Pirates improved to 21-3 overall and 12-3 in the NWC with their sixth straight win, and seventh in a row over the Bruins (10-14 overall, 8-7 NWC). Thanks to Linfield's 80-72 win at PLU tonight, GFU has clinched a spot in the upcoming NWC tournament, but its final seed is still to be determined.
Whitworth never trailed, jumping to a 12-4 lead on a basket by Ben Bishop just over four minutes into the game. The Bruins rallied to tie the game 14-14 on JJ Lacey's layup four minutes later, but Whitworth answered with a 6-0 run which included back-to-back baskets by Benjamin Nick. Derek Isaak's three-pointer in the final seconds of the first half gave the Pirates a 49-36 lead at the break. Whitworth shot 62% (18-29) from the field in the opening period, and that percentage would've been much higher if the Bucs had shot better than 2-10 from three-point range.
Whitworth quickly stretched the lead to 58-38 early in the second half on Kyle Roach's breakaway dunk. The Pirates led 70-49 following a Jurlina basket with just under 12 minutes to play. But GFU rallied with nine straight points, pulling within 70-58 on a three-pointer from Mason Green-Richards. When Joshua Caddel drilled another three-pointer, the Bruins had gotten within 76-65 with 7:47 to go.
Whitworth stemmed the momentum with five straight points, including a three-pointer by Kenny Love, and began to steadily pull away again. Love hit his second three of the half to put the Pirates up 89-67 with 3:32 to go and essentially end the game.
Jurlina finished 11-16 from the field and 3-3 at the free throw line for his 26 points. It is the highest total for any Pirate player since Love scored 27 in a loss to Pacific on January 6th. Jurlina also added seven rebounds and five assists in his second-to-last regular season home game at Whitworth.
Ben College came off of the bench for 12 points and Roach scored ten for the Bucs. Love led Whitworth with eight rebounds and dished nine assists to lead the team in both categories. The Pirates finished with 25 assists on 34 made baskets and had a 44-25 edge in rebounds.
Green-Richards led George Fox with 18 points off of the bench. Dylan Hamlett added a dozen and Jonathan Doutt scored ten.
Whitworth, which has already clinched second place in the NWC standings and the right to host a conference semifinal, will conclude the regular season on Saturday against Lewis & Clark College. George Fox will play at Whitman and a win over the unbeaten Blues would give the Bruins third place in the league standings, which would mean a return trip to Whitworth for the semifinals.