SPOKANE, Wash. – George Valle led a balanced Whitworth attack with 14 points to help the Pirates beat visiting UC Santa Cruz 87-67 in a non-conference men's basketball game on Saturday night in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.
The Pirates (4-2) posted season highs for shooting percentage and rebound margin to pull away from the Banana Slugs (2-6).
"It was great to see us put two halves together tonight," said head coach Matt Logie. "I know our guys were excited to get back on the winning side of things heading into finals week."
Whitworth opened a quick 13-6 lead, thanks in part to five points from new starter Robby Douglas. But UCSC answered with a 15-3 run, taking a 21-16 lead after a three-pointer by Spencer Wells with under nine minutes to play in the opening half. It would be the largest lead of the game for the Banana Slugs.
Whitworth tied the game 23-23 on a pair of free throws from Taylor Farnsworth and went up 27-25 on Dustin McConnell's layup. Wells answered with another three to give UCSC its final lead of the game (28-27) and its final points of the half as Whitworth ended the first period on an 11-0 run for a 38-28 lead at the break. Farnsworth had nine points at halftime for the Bucs.
Whitworth never let UCSC get the lead back under double digits in the second half. A basket by Farnsworth extended the advantage to 49-33 and a layup by Adam Wilks gave the Pirates their first 20-point margin (55-35) with 14:44 to go in the game. Whitworth would eventually lead by as many as 25 points.
Valle finished with 14 points, while Farnsworth had 13 points and seven boards. Douglas scored a dozen points and Colton McCargar had ten points to give Whitworth four players in double figures. McConnell had nine rebounds and six assists to lead the Pirates in both categories.
"Robby gave us great energy to start the game and played terrific throughout," Logie said. "We really improved our rebounding on both sides of the ball and moved the basketball the way we are used to."
Whitworth made 58% of its shots from the field and outrebounded the Banana Slugs 38-18.
James Townsend scored a game-high 16 points to lead UCSC. Wells finished with 13 points off of the bench. The Banana Slugs made 43% of their shots from the floor.
The Pirates will take final exams next week and then return to action on Monday, December 16th against Southwestern (Texas) in the Fieldhouse.