WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Freshman Christian Jurlina hit two free throws with five seconds left to secure an 84-80 men's basketball win for Whitworth at Whitman College on Tuesday night.
The victory improved the Pirates to 12-4 overall and 6-1 in the Northwest Conference. The Missionaries fell to 10-6, 5-2 and out of a first place tie in the league standings.
Whitworth finally found its shooting touch from the outside. The Pirates came into the game hitting just over 30% from three-point range this season, but made 15-24 (62%) from long range tonight. Five Whitworth players reached double figures, led by seniors Colton McCargar, Dustin McConnell and Robby Douglas.
"I am really proud of our seniors, who led the way tonight," said Whitworth head coach Matt Logie. "They handled the pressure and made shots with the game on the line."
The Pirate defense responded as well. Playing zone the entire night, Whitworth allowed 49 points in the opening half but only 31 in the second to rally from a five-point deficit at halftime.
Trailing 10-9 Whitworth went on a 10-1 run, sparked by Jurlina's three-pointer from the corner, to grab its largest lead of the game at 19-11. But Whitman rallied to go in front 21-19 on a three-pointer by Phillip Chircu. Jackson Clough's three-pointer and a layup by Evan Martin extended Whitman's lead to 42-33 with four minutes left in the first half. The Pirates cut the lead to 42-39 on McCargar's jumper before Whitman took its 49-44 lead into halftime.
Whitworth trailed at the half despite shooting 61.5% in the opening period, thanks in part to 10 turnovers and seven offensive rebounds by Whitman.
Tochi Oti hit a three and Martin a pair of layups early in the second half, giving Whitman its largest lead of the game (56-44) with 17:46 to play. Douglas stemmed the tide with a three-pointer, his third of the game.
Whitworth chipped away at the lead, pulling to within 59-54 on a layup by Taylor Farnsworth and tying the game on a basket inside by Adams Wilks. Trailing 65-64, Whitworth grabbed the lead for good on McCargar's three-pointer with 8:13 to play. The Bucs didn't gain any breathing room, however, until McConnell drove the lane for an 82-76 lead with two minutes to go. Whitman managed to pull within 82-80 in the final minute and had an open look at a three-pointer, but Martin's attempt rimmed out and Jurlina grabbed the rebound and was fouled before sinking the clinching free throws.
"Christian's impact off of the bench was huge tonight," Logie said. "He scored points, grabbed key rebounds and made big passes."
McCargar finished with 23 points and six rebounds, while McConnell had 20 points (on 6-8 from three-point range) and six assists. Jurlina had 15 points and six assists off of the bench. Douglas scored a dozen points and Farnsworth finished with 10 as the Pirates shot a season-high 62.5% from the field in the game.
Oti led Whitman with 22 points while Martin posted a double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds. Chircu had all ten of his points in the first half. The Missionaries finished the game 28-64 (44%) from the field.
"To be able to execute and play with confidence and poise speaks to the maturity of this team," Logie said.
Whitworth moves one game ahead of Whitman in the NWC standings, and a half game ahead of Lewis & Clark. L&C will travel to play at Whitman (Friday) and Whitworth (Saturday) this weekend.