Baseball takes on Pacific for NWC lead

In a Northwest Conference baseball show down last weekend, second place Whitworth met conference leader Pacific on Merkel Field in a best out-of-three game series that went to the wire. The Pirates were topped 6-2 by the Boxers in the opening game Saturday, but took control in the nightcap, gaining a 7-1 victory that boosted them to 3-1 win on Sunday.

“We haven’t been in the situation to win the conference in a very long time,” senior catcher Michael Takemura said. “We started a little slow but I think the confidence came when the series got going.”

After sophomore second baseman Gerhard Muelheims doubled in the first inning, senior third baseman Landon Scott drove him home on a single that put the first run on the board for either team.

“We thought we’d be able to keep adding on after that first run,” Muelheims said. “[But] their pitcher was throwing really well [and] we had a tough time seeing the ball.”

But Pacific answered with a flurry of runs over the next three innings, scoring six runs, while Whitworth struggled to connect at the plate.

Freshman shortstop Nick Motsinger got the offense rolling with a single to third base in the sixth inning, and Whitworth scored its second run off sophomore left fielder Tyler Pfeffer’s sacrifice fly to right field.

“I thought the first game we were a little tight [but] the second game we played pretty loose,” Takemura said. “These games didn’t mean anything unless we won them out.”

After freshman pitcher Carson Blumenthal tossed the first four innings, freshman pitcher Nick Scourey stepped on the mound and shut out Pacific in five innings of relief. But the Pirates were unable to close in on the Boxers’ lead, and with the loss surrendered the top spot in the conference to Pacific for now; final conference standings have not been determined.

“Everyone was disappointed we lost,” Muelheims said. “But we’ve lost the first game of a series before and ended up winning the next two games.”

Whitworth grabbed an early 2-0 lead in game two after Motsinger walked and Pfeffer singled up the middle to score Motsinger in the first inning. Miller singled to right field in the second inning, advanced to second base on a balk, then to third when senior center fielder Kevin Valerio grounded out to second base, and scored on freshman right fielder Erik Nikssarian’s single to left field.

“I think this whole year we’ve done a great job coming back from losses,” Takemura said. “We wanted to punch back.”

Pfeffer’s three-run homer in the third and Nikssarian’s homerun in the fourth boasted a 6-0 lead for the Bucs. Senior first baseman JR Jarrell’s RBI single brought Pfeffer home again in the fifth inning to score Whitworth’s final run.

Freshman pitcher Dan Scheibe pitched a full game, striking out 12 batters with no walks. In his past two pitching performances  for the Bucs he has struck out 25 batter without a walk, and his presence on the mound Saturday secured the win for the Pirates, as Pacific scored just one run off six hits.

“The second game Dan threw great,” Takemura said. “He gave us a lot of confidence by shutting them down.”

It took until the fourth inning for either team to earn a run on Sunday, but after Scott singled to center field, he scored off Valerio’s sacrifice fly. Jarrell got on base with a single up the middle, and then scored thanks to Nikssarian’s RBI single through the left side.

“I think it was pretty key that we got on the board first,” Muelheims said. “Scoring those two runs was big especially because it was right after an inning where they had the bases loaded and we struck their guy out.”

Whitworth’s final run came in the fifth when Takemura was hit by a pitch, advanced to second when Motsinger grounded out to the catcher, and scored off Muelheims RBI single to center field.

Pacific also scored in the fifth, plating their lone run of the game. But the Boxers had several opportunities to take the lead, leaving 13 runners on base by game’s end.

“In the dugout the players knew we were going to win,” Takemura said. “But we gave [Pacific] too many shots.”

Spencer Ansett pitched the first six innings, allowing one run off seven hits. Jason Renner finished the game, grabbing his sixth save of the season.

“We used a lot of the momentum we had from the second game [on Saturday],” Muelheims said. “Holding those guys to one run took away some of their confidence.”

Whitworth improved its record to 13-5 in NWC action, just one game behind Pacific in conference standings, and will face Willamette University in Salem, Ore., April 21 and 22.


Story by Corina Gebbers Staff Writer

Photography by Chrissy Roach


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Men's basketball wraps up bittersweetly

In five extra minutes of overtime, the Whitworth men’s basketball team fought to prolong its visit to the Midwest but fell short with a 74-71 loss to the University of Virginia Wesleyan during the NCAA Division III Sweet 16.

Despite the disappointment of losing, head coach Matt Logie said he wouldn’t change a thing.

“I found out long ago my plans for myself and those around me aren’t nearly as impactful as what God has in store,” Logie said.

In the closing 30 seconds of regulation, Whitworth led by a point, but a foul charged to the Pirates allowed the Marlins to tie the game from the stripe with 21 seconds remaining. Logie opted for a timeout, designing a play for Lasisi to drive to the hoop. But time ran out before the play was executed and the game went into overtime.

“We had a couple of chances at the end [but] we couldn’t get that next defensive stop,” sophomore guard Dustin McConnell said. “It’s just kind of the way things went.”

A steal with eight  seconds left in overtime gave the Pirates one last shot at a win, but the chance was stripped away when a jump ball was called, Virginia Wesleyan won possession and the Bucs were forced to foul.

“If we had more time I think we would have come away with a win,” senior forward Jack Loofburrow said. “But I guess you could say that with everything loss.”

Junior guard Wade Gebbers hit two free throws to put Whitworth on the board two minutes into the game. The Pirates struggled to connect on the offensive end, and Virginia Wesleyan led until the 12-minute mark when Loofburrow hit a 3-pointer to give Whitworth a 14-13 advantage. Loofburrow lead the Bucs with three treys on the game.

“He’s done that all year long,” Logie said. “Since he’s been back from his injury, he’s been such a spark off the bench.”

The Marlins buckled down on defense and held Whitworth to 42 percent from the field in the first half. But as they’ve done all year, the Pirates let their offense take care of itself and instead focused on shutting down Virginia Wesleyan defensively.

“We knew that to keep moving on at this part of the season we’d have to rely on our defense,” McConnell said. “We did a good job [defensively] and it kept us in the game.”

Whitworth faced a tight man-to-man defense and was forced to play a more physical game than it’s used to.

“[This was] probably the most physical game in the post season [and] the most athletic team we’ve played against this year,” Loofburrow said. “We’re used to being pressured, but our guards did do a good job getting the ball up the court.”

Junior forward Mack Larkin scored off a layup to keep Whitworth within four points of the Marlin’s lead and Loofburrow delivered on a 3-pointer to bring the Bucs within one as the clock ran down in the final minutes of the first half. But Whitworth was unable to regain the lead and went in to the locker room down 35-30.

“We talked at halftime that we were a few shots away from having a lead and not be discouraged,” Logie said.

A 10-2 run turned the tide of the game as senior post Felix Friedt went to work in the paint and fueled the Bucs to a 38-37 lead early in the second half. Multiple hustle plays by sophomore guard Colton McCargar kept Whitworth fired and Loofburrow scored five consecutive points to drive Whitworth to a 45-51 lead, its largest of the night, with 9:16 remaining.

“Felix did a good job attacking,” McConnell said. “[And] getting defensive stops and making it hard on the other team is huge.”

But the run was short-lived, as Virginia Wesleyan rallied back for the eighth lead change of the night. Senior forward Idris Lasisi drained a three to put Whitworth up once again, but as time ticked down and the Marlins were forced to foul, he missed the front end of a one-and-one. With just 21 seconds remaining in the game, Friedt was called for a foul and Virginia Wesleyan hit two free throws to tie the game at 61. Whitworth held the ball for the remaining 20 seconds but was unable to get a shot off before the end of regulation.

“We would’ve liked to close the door in regulation,” Logie said. “[But] we’ve been in that situation before so I felt good going into [overtime].”

The Pirates had their chances throughout the close overtime period; neither team built more than a three point lead.

“With five minutes [of overtime] I thought we could make a run, make some stops and close it out,” Gebbers said.

Gebbers drove the lane with 19 seconds remaining to give Whitworth a one-point lead. The Marlins answered with a floater on the left side of the key, and the Pirates found themselves down one with 10 seconds left for a last chance shot. Hope faded with a Whitworth turnover in the backcourt and Virginia Wesleyan got the ball back with eight seconds left.

McConnell made the steal of his career when he flicked the Marlin inbounds pass toward the Pirate end of the court, ran the ball down before getting shoved from behind, and recovered it in position to lay it in. Down to three seconds left on the clock, a Marlin player mauled McConnell from behind, tying him up under the basket. The referee called a jump ball, and the arrow pointed in Virginia Wesleyan’s favor. Lasisi fouled on the inbounds and the Marlins made two free throws to make the final score  74-71.

“We missed some free throws [and] had some turnovers, while they hit big shots when they needed to,” Gebbers said. “We had a chance to the end; they won.”

Friedt led the Bucs with 25 points and 10 rebounds, Loofburrow added 13 points, Gebbers scored 12 points and had three steals and Lasisi contributed 11 points.

“There are things you could go back and change,” Loofburrow said. “But if you think that way then it makes it a tougher loss than it needs to be.”

The No. 7 ranked Pirates closed out their season with a third consecutive trip to the Sweet 16 and a 26-4 record. A win would have placed Whitworth into the Elite Eight on Saturday night against host school Wisconsin-Whitewater.

“I’m proud I could experience this first season with this group of guys,” Logie said. “Hopefully the lessons they learn with us, in situations like this, will serve them well.”

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Photo by Tanner Scholten

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Bucs baseball defeated in doubleheader

The Whitworth baseball team fell short 10-7 and 9-7 in a doubleheader against Central Washington University on Sunday, March 4. The games were moved to Sunday after originally being scheduled for Saturday to allow the field to dry. Whitworth scored three runs in the second inning, but didn’t score again until the seventh inning when sophomore infielder/outfielder Gerhard Mulheims hit a home run, bringing in two runners and senior infielder Landon Scott scored off an RBI from senior first baseman JR Jarrell. Meanwhile, the Wildcats had back-to-back big innings in the fourth and fifth, scoring eight runs on the Pirates.

“It wasn't a very good performance for us,” Jarrell said. “I’m not sure what exactly went wrong, but we didn't play how we are capable of playing.”

Muelheims led the way with four RBIs in the first game. Freshman Spencer Ansett pitched four innings, giving up eight runs, while senior CJ Perry pitched 2.1 innings and gave up 2 runs. Sophomore Taylor Isadore threw 1.2 innings without allowing a run.

Whitworth overcame a 6-1 deficit in the second game, scoring five runs off three hits in the fifth inning to tie the game at six. Central scored again in the sixth and seventh innings and held on to the lead despite a ninth inning comeback attempt by Whitworth.

“They are a division II school but we played with them the whole game,” Jarrell said. “Our team is disappointed we didn’t come out with any wins.”

Freshman Dan Sheibe started the second game for the Bucs on the hill, allowing six earned runs.  Nick Mottsinger led Whitworth offensively going 4-5 at the plate with four RBIs.

The Pirates are now 6-3-1 overall and begin conference play March 10 and 11 at the University of Puget Sound.

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A taste of sweetness for men’s basketball

Pirates into the NCAA Division III Sweet 16 for the third consecutive season

The Whitworth men’s basketball team found something sweet in Belton, Texas, on March 2 and 3 when it knocked McMurry University and Trinity University out of the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Pirates improved their record to 26-3 overall and for the third consecutive year are headed to the Sweet 16.

The Bucs found an advantage in the paint against a quick and scrappy McMurry defense Friday night as senior post Felix Friedt scored a career-high 35 points to lead the Pirates to a 90-79 victory over the War Hawks. Friedt went 16 for 17 from the line and 9 for 16 from the field.

“Felix was tremendous throughout the night,” head coach Matt Logie said. “With the amount of pressure that McMurry puts on the basketball, it was very important that we had an outlet inside to relieve that pressure.”

Senior forward Jack Loofburrow hit a 3-pointer to regain the lead after McMurry tied the game at nine five minutes into the first half. The War Hawks were quick to answer, scoring six points to Whitworth’s two. As the top rebounding team in the nation, McMurry challenged Whitworth on the boards.

“The plan was to crash the glass with all five players,” Friedt said. “It was a rough battle, but we had everyone fight together.”

Friedt scored his 10th point of the half with 10 minutes to go off a three-point play. Sophomore guard Dustin McConnell scored a bucket for the Pirates to help energize a run, and Whitworth went up 29-22 when junior guard Wade Gebbers earned his first points of the game on a drive to the basket.

The War Hawks weren’t easily shut down and went on a 10-4 run against the Bucs. It was senior forward Idris Lasisi who broke the McMurry momentum when he threw down a message-sending dunk off an assist from McConnell. Then with just six seconds remaining in the half, Lasisi hit a baseline jumper to give the Pirates a 41- 37 advantage.

“In the first half we got rushed,”Friedt said.“But[we] played more controlled in the second half.”

Whitworth scored in bunches to stretch its lead to as many as 11 points after halftime. Friedt had five consecutive points, Gebbers drove the lane and scored, and sophomore guard Colton McCargar came off the bench contributing five points to open up the second half for the Bucs. McMurry would answer with its own flurry of baskets, but Whitworth held its own and sustained the lead the entire half.

“We were able to maintain our lead throughout the second half and withstand a few runs from McMurry despite making some uncharacteristic turnovers,” Logie said.

With just six minutes remaining, the War Hawks bounced back to within six points and by the 2:30 mark were within four points of Whitworth’s lead. Lasisi scored four consecutive points to fuel Whitworth late in the game, and Friedt put away the game for good with four points from the foul line in the final minute of play.

Whitworth outrebounded McMurry 41-38 and shot 82 percent from the stripe to earn a spot in Saturday night’s game. Lasisi scored 15 points for the Bucs, while Gebbers added 11 and McConnell dished three assists.

In Saturday night’s matchup against Trinity, Whitworth’s strong defense carried them 64-53 over the Tigers. Trinity came in confident after upsetting the No. 10-ranked host school University of Mary Hardin-Baylor the night before.

“We executed really well defensively and didn’t give them many easy looks,” Lasisi said.

Whitworth came out energized, finding an 8-3 lead off a Friedt bucket and treys by Lasisi and junior forward Mack Larkin. The Bucs were sparked by 17 of Lasisi’s game-high 22 points to maintain a steady lead throughout the first half.

“We are fortunate that the NWC plays its league games on Friday and Saturdays,” Logie said. “We are very accustomed to the quick turnarounds and how to go about preparing ourselves for those situations.”

Lasisi opened the second half with two 3-pointers, but the Bucs’ offensive momentum decelerated and Trinity made a huge comeback, closing the 20-point gap to just three with under seven minutes remaining.

“We rushed things on offense and had some turnovers,” Lasisi said. “Because of our bad offense we weren’t as focused as we should be on defense.”

Whitworth called a timeout in an attempt to freeze the Tigers’ offensive streak. Loofburrow responded by netting eight points.

“Our players really responded on the defensive end following that break and put some stops together which got us going offensively,” Logie said.

Loofburrow’s surge for the Bucs was enough to help Whitworth regain a 13-point lead, and execution on the defensive end denied Trinity any comeback opportunity.

Whitworth kept the Tigers off the free throw line for the entire first half, while also forcing its opponent to shoot 38 percent from the field. Loofburrow contributed 13 points for the Bucs on the offensive end, while Friedt added 12 and Gebbers dished seven assists.

Whitworth will face Virginia Wesleyan College in the Sweet 16 on March 9 in the Sectional Semifinals at Wisconsin-Whitewater in Wisconsin.

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File Photos Chrissy Roach

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Men’s basketball takes home sixth consecutive Northwest Conference title

Feb. 25 will once again go down in the record books. On this day in history, Michael Jordan scored a record 58 points in one game for the Chicago Bulls, Pete Maravich scored a career high 68 points for New Orleans, the University of Connecticut’s head coach Jim Calhoun won his 800th game as a coach and, as of late, the Whitworth men’s basketball team won their sixth consecutive Northwest Conference title.

The No. 10 ranked Bucs, who improved their record to 24-3, are on the way to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the sixth straight year after two wins at home over Lewis and Clark College and the University of Puget Sound last week.

Senior forward Idris Lasisi scored 21 of his 27 points in the first half to carry the Pirates to a 79-61 victory last Thursday night over Lewis & Clark College. The Bucs started slow in their NWC Tournament opener, but Lasisi scored 13 consecutive points to rally Whitworth out of an 8-0 deficit to start the game.

“Idris gave us a nice spark in the first half to get us going and move us along,” said head coach Matt Logie.

Then it was senior post Felix Friedt who took control, scoring the next seven points for the Pirates. Junior forward Zach Payne, recovering from an injury, made a solid presence on both the offensive and defensive end of the floor, and senior forward Jack Loofburrow hit a jumper with just under six minutes to play before half time to help the Pirates find their momentum. Despite lacking their usual offensive flare, Whitworth took a 13-point lead into the locker room after a switch to zone defense and outrebounding Lewis & Clark 25-16.

“We did a good job rebounding both halves; guys were putting bodies on bodies,” sophomore guard Dustin McConnell said. “[And] we did a good job talking on defense and helping our teammates out.”

Whitworth maintained the lead through the second half, mainly in part to their solid defense.

“Our defense really gave us a lot of confidence,” Logie said. “We felt like we could get stops as the game went along.”

Junior guard Wade Gebbers scored his first bucket of the game as the Pirates found a rhythm and ran with it. Lasisi hit a 3-pointer to put Whitworth up 49-34 with just under 13 minutes to play, and with the Pirate offense clicking, Lewis & Clark fought to stay within reach. Junior guard Colton McCargar fueled the Bucs off the bench with eight points in the second half, contributing to Whitworth’s 18-point lead at game’s end.

“Overall, we did pretty well,” McConnell said. “When we execute well good things happen for us.”

Lasisi led the way with 27 points, Friedt added 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, and Loofburrow contributed nine points. Overall, the Pirates outrebounded Lewis & Clark 46-34.

With the win, Whitworth moved on to the championship game of the NWC Tournament.

“To be here Saturday night [in the NWC championship game] and be able to punch our ticket to the NCAA Tournament here at home is a really great opportunity,” Logie said.

The Pirates matched up against UPS Saturday night, defeating the Loggers 86-71 to clinch their sixth straight NWC Tournament title.

After UPS scored the first basket of the game, Lasisi and Gebbers each hit a trey to spark an 8-0 run for Whitworth. It was the first of several sequences that boosted the Pirates over UPS, but the physical Logger team battled hard and hit their shots to stay within 10 points of Whitworth’s lead.

“We played really well in the first half,” Loofburrow said. “Everyone was playing good defense, but they had guys step up and shoot well.”

With just under seven minutes to play in the first half, the Loggers rallied offensively and regained the lead by one point. Lasisi answered for Whitworth with back-to-back 3-pointers to fuel the Bucs, and Whitworth grabbed their biggest lead of the half off a trey by Loofburrow with less than a minute remaining.

Even with their offensive blaze back the Pirates’ defense contributed greatly to their victory.

“[Defense] was the biggest key to our game,” junior forward Mack Larkin said. “We had a good scout going in and we knew what we needed to do going in. It was a matter of executing what our coaches set out for us.”

And execute is what they did. The Pirates shot 60 percent from the field in the second half, while holding their opponent to less than 50 percent.

“Playing together and having depth [makes it] hard for teams to have a defensive plan against us,” Loofburrow said.

UPS trailed the Pirates by as many as 18 points with just under five minutes to play, but the Loggers threatened to have a late game comeback, cutting Whitworth’s lead to 11 with less than two minutes remaining. But a bucket by McConnell and two Friedt free throws escorted the Bucs to a 15-point victory and the NWC championship title.

“We’ve got some great momentum,” Larkin said. “If we play our game we won’t have any trouble competing when we get into the national tournament.”

Lasisi finished with 19 points and five assists for the Bucs, Gebbers had 17 points and five assists, Friedt ended with 12 points and eight rebounds, Larkin and McConnell added 11 points apiece and Loofburrow contributed 10 points.

“It was a balanced attack tonight,” Larkin said. “It was a matter of one person stepping up at the right time.”

Whitworth will find out Monday morning when and where they play for the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.

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Top photo by Chrissy Roach

Second photo by Tanner Scholten

Women’s tennis splits in opening weekend

The Whitworth women’s tennis team kicked off its season on Feb. 19, splitting in matches versus the College of Idaho and Lewis-Clark State College. The Pirates swept the College of Idaho 9-0 in their first match of the day. At No. 1 doubles, senior Alli Marshall and senior Erica Bosman won their match 8-3. Senior Claire Hemming and freshman Saryn Mooney claimed an 8-1 victory at No. 2 doubles while senior Siri Carlson and freshman Morgan McDivitt had an 8-0 win at No. 1 doubles.

Marshall and Bosman also competed in the No. 1 and No. 2 singles matches respectively. Marshall won her match 6-2, 6-1 while Bosman had a 6-2, 6-0 victory. Junior Megan Wingfield

finished with a 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 3 singles and junior Jessi Steele rolled to a 6-0, 6-0 win. At No. 5 and No. 6 matches, Carlson and Hemming both swept their opponents 6-0, 6-0.

“These were our first matches of the season and we were going against teams who had played already,” assistant coach Colin Storms said. “We got to see what we need to work on.”

Later in the afternoon Whitworth faced Lewis-Clark State College, falling to the ­Warriors 8-1.

Wingfield and Hemming earned the lone point for the Pirates, defeating their opponents 8-5 at No. 3 doubles. At No. 2 doubles, Mooney and Steele came up short 8-4 and Marshall and Bosman fell 8-3 at No. 1 doubles.

In singles action, the Pirates played the Warriors close as Mooney and Steele competed through three sets at No. 3 singles and No. 5 singles respectively. Mooney was defeated 7-6, 2-6, 6-2 and Steele lost 5-7, 7-5, 1-0 (10-8). Bosman began a close contest at No. 2 singles but an injury ended her match early. Wingfield lost 6-3, 7-5 at No. 4 singles, while Marshall fell short 6-2, 6-0 in the No. 1 singles match.

“We were pretty pleased over all,” Storms said. “Next week we start conference matches, so it’s good to get a few matches in before then.”

Whitworth will open conference play in Tacoma on Feb. 24 and 25 against the University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University.

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Men’s basketball extends winning streak

Pirates enter NWC Tournament as No. 1 seed for the third straight season For the third year in a row, the Whitworth men’s basketball team is headed into the Northwest Conference Tournament as the No. 1 seed. The Bucs finished 15-1 in conference action after wins against Whitman College and Willamette University last week.

“A lot of the credit goes to our key returning players and the leadership from the guys who have experienced a lot of success,” head coach Matt Logie said. “[They] have kept our identity and our expectation levels high.”

On Tuesday night senior forward Idris Lasisi scored a career-high 27 points, leading the Pirates to an 81-74 victory over the host Whitman Missionaries.

“They were the only team that beat us in the conference so far,” Lasisi said. “I felt like we had something to settle, [so] I tried to be more aggressive and happened to have a good night.”

Three quick Whitworth treys gave the Pirates an early lead, but Whitman rallied and went on an 11-0 run. With just under six minutes to play in the first half, Whitworth regained momentum and took a 38-36 lead into the locker room.

“We started off a little bit hesitant,” Lasisi said. “But after we settled down we had poise, while being aggressive.”

A trey by sophomore guard Dustin McConnell sparked a run for the Bucs to start the second half and Whitworth held the lead the rest of the game. The Missionaries stayed close and rallied with just over a minute to play, but Lasisi answered for the Pirates with a 3-point basket that shut down the Missionaries’ hope for victory.

Lasisi led all scorers with 27 points, while tacking on five assists and pulling down six rebounds.

McConnell finished with 14 points and junior guard Wade Gebbers contributed 11 points. Senior forward Jack Loofburrow and junior forward Mack Larkin added 10 points apiece.

“We’ve peaked at the right time,” Lasisi said. “We’ve been playing our best basketball and this keeps adding to our confidence.”

Whitworth wrapped up regular season action at home on Saturday night against Willamette. Before the game, seniors Felix Friedt, Michael Taylor, Lasisi and Loofburrow were honored for Senior Night.

“It’s been a privilege playing here for four years,” Friedt said. “It went by too fast.”

Friedt scored the first points of the game off a three- point play designed for him and went on to score a career-high 29 points to lead his team to a 93-65 win over the Bearcats.

It wasn’t until just seven minutes remained in the first half when Whitworth really found a rhythm. A Friedt lay-in began an 8-0 run for the Pirates, who went up 31-23 off a fast break bucket by Larkin. Willamette answered with a 5-0 run of its own, but a 3-point play for Friedt and bucket by McConnell put the Pirates up 40-32 at half.

“There was a time when we weren’t taking pride in getting stops,” Taylor said. “We knew if we got defensive stops then offense would take care of itself.”

Friedt scored six consecutive points, and Loofbur- row hit a trey to rally the Bucs early in the second half. Willamette fought for another 5-0 run with 12 minutes remaining, but a 3-point basket by Lasisi shut down the Bearcats’ momentum. It was all Whitworth from there, and the Pirates steadily ran away with the win.

“In the second half we definitely picked it up,” Friedt said. “We had good inside-outside attacks.”

Friedt led all players with 29 points while pulling down 13 rebounds; Loofburrow added 18 points, Lasisi and McConnell finished with 12 points apiece and Larkin contributed 10 points. Overall the Pirates shot 52.9 percent from the field and out-rebounded their opponents 45-29.

“When we set out at the beginning of the season we knew we wanted to win the conference,” Taylor said. “We’re taking our goals one at a time and this is the first one.”

The Pirates will host the first round of the NWC Championships against Lewis & Clark College on Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.

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Photographer: Chrissy Roach Photo caption: Senior Jack Loofburrow looks for a teammate on Saturday Feb.18 during Senior Night against Willamette.

Whitworth shoots its way to NWC title

The Whitworth men’s basketball team clinched the Northwest Conference title after wins on the road against Linfield College and Pacific University on Feb. 10 and 11. “I think that everything we’ve been working for is much closer and much more tangible,” said head coach Matt Logie. “[Motivating the players] is easier in this point in time with the opportunity to accomplish the goals we set at the beginning of the year.”

The Pirates kicked off the weekend with a 95- 67 win against Linfield. The Wildcats nearly upset Whitworth on Jan. 14, but Whitworth learned from their mistakes and overcame the Wildcats the second time around.

“The first time we didn’t execute defensively the way we would have like to,” Logie said.

Senior guard Wade Gebbers sparked the Bucs’ offense with two treys, and a bucket by junior forward Mack Larkin boosted Whitworth to an early lead. Senior forward Jack Loofburrow rallied the Pirates with five consecutive points, but Linfield managed to answer with a 7-0 run.

Contributions from the bench supplied another flare for the Pirate offense. Junior guard Colton McCargar went four for four from three-point range in the first half, while Loofburrow generated offensive momentum for Whitworth, scoring 10 of his 13 points during the first half.

“Everyone’s contributing,” said redshirt freshman guard Austin Ehlo. “And if someone gets tired there’s someone to step up.”

Whitworth powered over the Wildcats in the second half despite foul trouble for senior post Felix Freidt (pictured left) and senior post Michael Taylor. Linfield struggled to defend the Pirate offense, and Whitworth went on to shoot 61.35 percent in the second half.

“We were really ready to go and pumped to come out this weekend,” McCargar said. “We really executed well.”

Whitworth pulled ahead 72- 55 on a Gebbers’ trey. Linfield couldn’t endure Whitworth’s fast-paced offense and solid defense, and the Pirates sustained their significant lead.

“Toward the end of the game we really pushed the ball and played faster and were able to score points in bunches,” Logie said.

Senior forward Idris Lasisi and McCargar led the Bucs with 15 points apiece. Larkin finished with 13 points and junior guard Dustin McConnell, Ehlo and Friedt each contributed 10 points.

On Saturday night the Pirates beat Pacific University 76-54 to secure the NWC title.

“Tonight we came in with a plan and from the start we played with a lot of energy,” Gebbers said.

After four lead changes to start the game, Lasisi hit a three-point basket to spark an 8-2 run for the Pirates and Gebbers hit his 71st trey of the season to put Whitworth up 20-13. But Pacific played relentlessly and stayed within 10 points until just eight minutes remained in the first half.

“We lost our energy for a few possessions,” Gebbers said. “[But] we came right back at them with a run of our own every time they started to get their confidence up.”

The Pirates combined aggressive offense with tough defense to gradually extend their lead to 48-25 going into halftime.

“We did a good job of locating shooters and playing good defense in the post,” Gebbers said. “We were able to string some stops together and that fueled our offense.”

Pacific scored the first points of the second half, but Friedt answered with a bucket for Whitworth, and the Pirates extended their lead to as many as 30 points by game’s end.

Lasisi led all players with 24 points, Loofburrow contributed 14 points, and Gebbers added 10 points and five assists for the Pirates.

Before the games Logie reflected on the past month’s importance to his team.

“Every weekend we had important games on our schedule,” Logie said. “We were really able to have a lot of success during that time and put ourselves in the lead in the conference.”

The Pirates took a hit losing Loofburrow, Larkin and junior forward Zach Payne to injuries, but found strength off the bench, and formed an identity of hard work and confidence in each other.

“I think we’ve really kind of figured out who we are,” Logie said. “Everybody knows their role and we’re playing really well together because everyone has had to step up.”

The Pirates battled close games both at home and on the road, including a double overtime win over Pacific Lutheran University and a victory at the University of Puget Sound.

“Our trip to Tacoma in early January was a critical moment for us,” Logie said. “We had a lot of different guys step up and help us to those victories, [and] I think that gave us a lot of confidence through the rest of the month.”

Whitworth, ranked ninth in the nation as of last Sunday, hosts its final conference game on Feb. 18 against Willamette.

Story by Corina Gebbers Staff Writer

Contact Corina Gebbers at

File photo: Chrissy Roach Photo caption: Senior Felix Friedt was named 2nd Team All-NWC last year. The Pirates play their last conference game on Feb. 18.