SPOKANE, Wash. – Once again Whitworth relied on its defense, pulling out a 60-49 win over Puget Sound in a Northwest Conference men's basketball game on Saturday night in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.
The Pirates improved to 10-3 overall and 4-0 in the NWC by forcing the Loggers (6-7, 2-2) into 33% shooting from the field and 22 turnovers.
Whitworth head coach Matt Logie sees his team building an identity.
"We are finding ways to win close games and defend well against different offensive styles," he said. "The exciting thing is our offense is still coming around and once we put it all together it is going to be fun."
But until that happens, Logie will be content winning more games like this one – a defensive grinder that tested his team's resolve.
The Pirates pulled away late in the first half for a 30-21 lead at the break. Dustin McConnell had 11 points at halftime for Whitworth, including a late three-pointer.
After the Bucs grabbed a 36-27 lead on Colton McCargar's jumper just over five minutes into the second half, Whitworth's offense struggled for the next six and a half minutes. The Loggers began to cut into that lead, pulling within 38-35 on a three-pointer by Matt Bender and to within 40-39 on a jumper by Nick Holden with eight minutes to play.
But McCargar answered with a three-pointer, sparking a 14-2 run that put the game out of reach. By the time McCargar nailed a pair of free throws with three minutes left, the Pirates had taken a 54-41 lead.
Whitworth only made 36% (19-53) from the field, 31% (5-16) from three-point range. McCargar scored a game-high 16 points and grabbed six rebounds, while McConnell had 15 points and five boards. Taylor Farnsworth added eight points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
Puget Sound was held to 33% (18-55) from the field, 18% (3-17) from beyond the arc, and the Loggers committed 22 turnovers. James Osorio was the only UPS player in double figures with 10 points.
Whitworth, winners of five in a row overall and ten straight over Puget Sound, heads into next weekend's games in Oregon in sole possession of first place in the NWC standings. The Pirates will take on George Fox on Friday night and Linfield on Saturday.