SPOKANE, Wash. – Christian Jurlina poured in a career-high 29 points off of the bench to lead Whitworth to an 87-58 win over visiting Willamette on Friday night in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.
The Pirates improve to 14-4 overall and 8-1 in the Northwest Conference and remain a game ahead of Whitman in the league standings. The Bearcats fell to 3-15, 1-8.
Jurlina scored 20 of his 29 points in the opening half, when Whitworth needed them the most. The teams traded leads three times after Willamette jumped to an early 6-0 advantage. The Pirates scored 11 in a row to go up 11-6, but the Bearcats responded with their own 10-2 run and led 16-13 on a jumper by Alex Brown. Willamette still led 20-17 when Whitworth closed the first half by outscoring the Bearcats 19-8. Jurlina had 13 of those final 19 points, including a pair of three-pointers.
“Christian really showed his full arsenal of offensive skills tonight,” said Whitworth head coach Matt Logie. “And the rest of the guys did a great job getting him the ball in spots where he could be effective.”
Brown hit a short jumper to open the second half and pull the Bearcats within 36-30. It was as close as they would get. The Pirates scored seven straight, sparked by a Robby Douglas three-pointer, to open a 13-point advantage and never looked back. Whitworth forced 11 of Willamette’s 19 turnovers in the second half and finished the game with a 30-8 advantage in points off of turnovers.
Leading 49-35 with 15 minutes to play, Whitworth put the game out of reach with a 16-0 run over the next six minutes. By the time Kionte Brown hit a jumper and followed it up with two free throws, Whitworth’s lead had grown to 65-35. Austin Wood’s basket with 4:30 to play gave Whitworth its largest lead of the game (85-45).
“Good teams figure out what the opponents are trying to exploit and adjust to that,” Logie said. “Our guys buckled down in the second half and did a better job defending the paint and forcing turnovers.”
Jurlina and Brown were the only Pirates in double figures tonight as all 16 players saw at least four minutes on the floor. Jurlina’s 29 points is a season-high for Whitworth, surpassing the 24 points Kenny Love had against SUNY-Old Westbury in November. Brown’s total was also a career high for the freshman. Love led Whitworth with five boards as the Pirates outrebounded the Bearcats 37-25.
Brown did his best for Willamette, scoring 21 points. He was the only Bearcat player in double figures. Brandon Luedtke added a game-high nine rebounds.
The Bucs have now won the last 12 meetings against Willamette.
Whitworth will host Pacific University (11-7, 4-5 NWC) on Saturday night at 6:00 pm. Willamette travels to take on Whitman on Saturday.