Coach of the Year: Toby Schwarz

Toby Schwarz has been selected as the Whitworthian’s coach of the year. It has been 20 years since Whitworth track made the decision to hire Toby Schwarz, a young coach out of Pullman high school.

Schwarz began his track career at Franklin Pierce High School in Tacoma, Washington where he ran the 800m and 4x400m relay. After graduation, he was presented with opportunities to continue competing but instead chose to join his brothers at Washington State University and pursued his master’s in athletic administration with the hopes of becoming a high school athletic director.

During that time, he was notified that Pullman High School was hiring track coaches.

That led to a four-year stretch at Pullman as the assistant track coach until, in a similar turn of events, Schwarz found out about an opening for a coaching position at a small Division III school in Spokane that he had never heard of.

“My mentor professor at WSU, he was a graduate of Whitworth and he said, ‘Hey, Whitworth’s hiring a new track coach.’ And I said, ‘What’s Whitworth?’... I guess I never really asked him where he went to school. And so I applied and so did 54 other people nationwide,” Schwarz said.

Seventy-four All-Americans later, it is apparent that Schwarz has turned Whitworth track into a powerhouse program, but more than that, he has created a family of hard-working athletes and caring coaches who strive for perfection in everything they do.

“There’s a verse in the Bible, Matthew 5:48, that says ‘Be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect.’ Now the problem with most people’s understanding of that verse is that they think it means that we need to be perfect, that we need to not make mistakes, be flawless,” Schwarz said. “But really what that verse refers to is being mature and complete as our Heavenly Father is mature and complete. God is complete and he wants us to be as well, but he understands it’s a process.”

Coaching nine athletes to outdoor national titles, leading the men’s and women’s teams to 12 combined NWC championships since 2001 and managing to get 75 percent of one’s athletes to qualify for conference 10 seasons in a row are accomplishments you might think to see on a DI track squad’s résumé. Schwarz has done all of that and more partly by creating a team-first culture with a perfect effort mentality.

The effect of that drive to be ‘perfect’ in one’s own capacity reaches far beyond the track. The goal is to change lives, and it certainly seems as though it is working.

“A theme that encompasses all of what Toby teaches us is this idea of control,” sophomore sprinter J.R. Woolley said. “He tells us that in sports, as in life, there are things you can control and things that you can’t and that we must focus on what we can control in order to be successful.”

Junior pole-vaulter Everett Kleven said his favorite aspect of Schwarz’ coaching style is “his emphasis on team. It’s the single biggest reason he is successful as a track coach. Every time he writes the word, he capitalizes it so as to further exaggerate the importance.”

Good thing Schwarz has no intention of leaving.

“If I had aspirations of going somewhere else, I would’ve left a long time ago” Schwarz said. “I’ve had opportunities to go coach other places, but I’ve chosen not to take them because I don’t look at the grass as being greener somewhere else. I could go to a DI school, somewhere that has nicer facilities, but that doesn’t make those programs any better. I love Whitworth.”

Caleb Mathena

Staff Writer

Tennis ends conference play victorious

The men’s tennis team finished out the regular season strong last weekend with a pair of wins against visiting Pacific Lutheran University and University of Puget Sound. The Pirates are now guaranteed the fourth and final bid for the 2016 Northwest Conference tournament. The Bucs led off on Saturday with a sweep in doubles against the Lutes. Court one saw the most contentious match of the day when seniors Drew Brigham and Drew Adams claimed an 8-5 victory. No. 2 doubles team, juniors Shane Sandlin and Caleb Hughes dominated their opponents 8-2 while freshman Layne Ryerson and senior Blake Miller won on court three 8-1.

“I think Shane and I both served pretty well, which set us up for some great put-aways,” Hughes said. “Something we’ve been trying to work on is making sure that our returns are clean and just making sure that we are sharp at the beginning of the match. We closed really strong, but the first couple games were a little iffy.”

The Pirates rolled passed the Lutes in singles as well, managing to win every single set. Every match, from courts one to six was decided in just two quick sets. Whitworth finished out the day with a decisive 9-0 victory, increasing their record to 7-4 in the NWC.

Sunday was more of the same for the Bucs. Once again, Whitworth was able to grab all three matches in doubles play with an 8-0 win on court one and 8-1 wins on courts two and three.

In singles play, Brigham finished first with a 6-0, 6-1 win, putting Whitworth up 4-0. The coup de gras came from sophomore Ryan Adams on court six who won 6-0, 6-1.

Miller beat his opponent 6-1, 6-1 on court 2 and Ryerson grabbed a 6-1, 6-2 victory on court 4.

“I just tried to envision myself playing next week in the conference tournament,” Miller said. “I was really working on my serve. That’s been a focus recently. I’ve just been trying to go a little bit bigger and choose my spots a little bit better.”

Whitworth toppled Puget Sound 9-0, increasing their record to 8-4 in conference. The win secured their place in the conference tournament next weekend.

“It was a good weekend,” head coach Mike Shanks said. “We haven’t swept these two teams like that, I think, ever before. Granted, they aren’t as good as they have been in the past, but we’re playing really good.”

As his team moves forward, Shanks said “don’t count us out.”

Caleb Mathena

Staff Writer

Women’s tennis gets closer to NWC tournament bid

Still in the running for an NWC tournament berth, the women’s tennis team defeated conference opponents, the Pacific University Boxers, 7-2 last Saturday but fell to non-conference Lewis-Clark St. 5-4 on Sunday. The Pirates improved to 4-6 in the NWC and are now 5-11 overall. The Bucs swept doubles to begin the match, giving them a 3-0 lead over the Boxers. Junior Anabelle Burns and freshman Emma Jo Wiley won by a decisive 8-1 margin at No. 2 doubles. But both the No. 1 and No. 3 doubles matches came down to the wire. On court 1, junior Bella Hoyos and sophomore Jenny Adams won their match 8-6 while court 3 featured a 9-7 victory for senior KC McConnell and freshman Paige Rohrbach.

Junior Ashley Winslow was the first to finish in singles play. Winslow grabbed the quick win, going 6-2 and 6-0. Pacific scored their only two points on courts 2 and 3 against Wiley and Adams, respectively. However, Burns’ 6-0, 6-2 victory decided the match, giving Whitworth an insurmountable 5-1 lead.

“My goal for singles was just to try and stay energized from the beginning,” Burns said. “I think I was able to place the ball really well and move her around more, which gave me the opportunity to get a winner.”

The Pirates ended the day with a 7-2 win over the Boxers.

Sunday’s non-conference match against Lewis-Clark St. gave the Bucs a chance to try out some new combinations in doubles. Hoyos and McConnell made short work of their opponents on court 1 with an 8-2 win.

“I thought we played really well right from the beginning,” McConnell said. “We started out on fire, hit a lot of good shots, and made our opponents just play a lot of balls. We were really excited to play together too. It was a good match up.”

No. 2 doubles team, Wiley and Adams sustained a narrow 8-6 loss, but the Pirates came out on top after Rohrbach and Winslow won 9-7 on court 3.

In singles, Hoyos got up early with a 2-1 lead in her first set, but could not recover after losing the next four games and eventually fell to her opponent 7-5 and 6-4. McConnell defeated her counterpart 6-3, 6-2 on court 4 and No. 6 Rohrbach went to a third set to win hers 6-1, 4-6, and 10-2.

Despite the strong showing, the Bucs ended up losing to Lewis-Clark St. 5-4. Although, this loss does not affect the Pirates’ chances of getting into post-season play. Whitworth will travel to Tacoma next weekend to play Pacific Lutheran, Saturday and Puget Sound on Sunday. The Bucs must win both matches in order to earn the final NWC tournament bid.

“We are cautiously optimistic,” head coach Rachel Aldridge said. “The two teams we play next weekend are solid competitors, so we can’t look past them, but we are definitely playing much better tennis than we were at the front of our season. Whatever the results are, I feel strongly about us competing to the best of our abilities next weekend.”

Caleb Mathena

Staff Writer

Tennis splits home weekend

Whitworth women’s tennis split their matches at home this weekend, claiming a key 7-2 victory over George Fox on Saturday while falling to nationally-ranked Lewis & Clark, 0-9 on Sunday. The Pirates began Saturday’s match by sweeping the Bruins in doubles. Junior Bella Hoyos and sophomore Jennifer Adams dominated their George Fox counterparts, 8-2.

“I think, as a team, we were both just very patient,” Adams said. “We set each other up for the ball really well. Both of us hit really consistent, deep shots and it gave us so many opportunities to poach and hit winners at the net.”

The No. 2 doubles team, junior Anabelle Burns and freshman Emma Joe Wiley, won their match, 8-6, after a comeback in the sixth game. The No. 3 duo, freshman Paige Rohrbach and senior KC McConnell also surged back from a substantial deficit late in the match, outscoring their opponents in four straight games to win 9-7.

George Fox answered back by winning two singles matches. No. 1 Hoyos lost 6-3, 6-2 and No. 4 McConnell 7-5, 6-1. But wins by Wiley, Adams, Burns, and Rohrbach clinched the match for the Pirates.

The win put Whitworth back in the running for a playoff bid. Should it come down to a tie in record with George Fox, Whitworth would hold the tiebreaker.

“Our number one goal today was just to compete well and leave it all out on the court,” head coach Rachel Aldridge said. “We knew on paper going into today that it was going to be an uphill climb. And so, rather than focusing on winning and losing matches or sets, we really just tried to focus on being in every point and making them earn it.”

The Pioneers took all three doubles matches, winning 8-3 on courts 1 and 2 and 8-2 on court 3.

The most contentious match was on court No. 1, where Hoyos faced off against seventh-ranked Summer Garrison. Garrison struck quickly in the first set, winning five of the first seven games, but Hoyos battled back in games eight and nine to make it 4-5. The set came down to a tiebreaker, which Garrison managed to win, and so the first set went to L&C 5-7.

Hoyos and Garrison traded games for the majority of the second set. However, Garrison managed to stay a game ahead until she pulled away late with a 6-3 win.

“For me, the highlight was my comeback in the first set,” Hoyos said. “The first set kind of sets the tone for the whole match, so if I would’ve lost that first set, say 1-6, I don’t think I would have been able to play as tough as I did in the second set.”

Whitworth now sits at 4-6 in the Northwest Conference after this weekend. The Bucs will stay at home next weekend when they take on Bellevue Community College at 4 p.m. on Friday the 9th, Pacific at 11 a.m. on Saturday the 10th, and Lewis-Clark State at 10 a.m. on Sunday the 11th.

Caleb Mathena

Staff Writer

Women's Tennis 4/2/16 update

Whitworth women’s tennis claimed a 7-2 victory against the visiting George Fox Bruins, putting them back in the running for post-season play. The Pirates swept the Bruins in doubles. Junior Bella Hoyos and sophomore Jennifer Adams dominated their George Fox counterparts 8-2. Junior Anabelle Burns and freshman Emma Joe Wiley, the #2 doubles team, won their match 8-6 after a comeback in the sixth game. The #3 duo, freshman Paige Rohrbach and senior KC McConnell also surged back from a substantial deficit late in the match, outscoring their opponents in four straight games to win 9-7.

George Fox answered back, claiming two singles matches. #1 Hoyos lost 6-3, 6-2 and #4 McConnell 7-5, 6-1. But #2 Wiley, #3 Adams, #5 Burns, and #6 Rohrbach all won.

The Bucs improved to 3-5 in conference while the Bruins fell to 4-3. Whitworth faces conference leader, Lewis & Clark at home on Sunday at 11 a.m.

 

Caleb Mathena

Staff Writer

 

Basketball teams make Whitworth history

In sports, it is all too easy to let one crucial moment define an entire season. However, both men’s and women’s basketball teams have chosen not to let their disappointments dictate their attitudes. Even after the men’s surprising loss in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament and the women’s fall to undefeated George Fox in the NWC semifinals, each team has dubbed its season as successful in the end. This year was the women’s fourth consecutive appearance in the NWC tournament. It was also their fourth consecutive time finishing with a winning record.

For senior KC McConnell, the highlights of the season keep the losses in perspective.

“Probably the biggest highlight for me was our win down at Whitman when we beat them by three on their own court,” McConnell said. “It was a big upset and win for us in that rivalry game.”

McConnell was a large part of her team’s success. She led the Pirates in scoring this season with 514 total points and an average of 19.8 per game. She was also the leading rebounder with 166 total (an average of 6.4 per game). In the history of Whitworth women’s basketball, McConnell ranks third on the all-time scoring list, sealing her place among the university’s top-tier athletes. But McConnell is also committed to success in the classroom and her community.

As a double major in kinesiology and education, she has maintained a 3.95 GPA and was selected as a First-Team Academic All-American for the second year in a row. On top of that, McConnell has been involved in community outreach projects through the Whitworth Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and the Boys and Girls Club. Her involvement in the community, combined with her performance in the classroom and on the court contributed to her being named as a finalist for the prestigious Josten s Trophy—an award her brother, former Whitworth guard Dustin McConnell, was also named as a finalist for.

The men’s season also came to an untimely end when they were upset by Whitman College. The Pirates, ranked third in the nation, were expected to continue their playoff run farther than the second round. Despite the loss, head coach Matt Logie maintains that his team “rose to the occasion.”

“One of the things that I’ve always tried to do is look at potential, whether it’s as individuals, as coaches or as a program, and say ‘What’s the ceiling for this group and this team?’” Logie said. “When we look back on how a season plays out, we can be proud of whatever results we have if we know we did everything within our power to reach that ceiling and I think this team came extremely close to doing that.”

The Bucs, who were at one point this season ranked first in the nation, finished 26-2 overall. This is the 10th year in a row they have been crowned NWC champions and it was also their 10th consecutive playoff berth. On average, the Pirates scored 13.6 more points, grabbed 4.5 more rebounds, made 6.6 percent more 3-pointers and sunk 8.5 percent more field goals than their opponents every game.

Senior George Valle, NWC player of the year, helped lead his team to the impressive season. Valle, who has been a starter ever since the beginning of his freshman year at Whitworth, was also a Jostens Trophy finalist, like McConnell. In fact, Whitworth was the only school to have two athletes as finalists for the award this year. This is also the first time Whitworth has ever had two finalists up for the trophy in the same season.

Valle is a marketing major and holds a 3.79 GPA. He was a named as a third-team Academic All-American and is also a member of Whitworth’s National Honor Society.

“My personal highlight was when we clinched the NWC Regular Season Championship at PLU and a home game for the NWC tournament,” Valle said. “It was a great accomplishment for the team because we had set that goal at the beginning of the year and were able to reach it. We put in a lot of hard work to get to that point.”

Valle finished his career ranking seventh on Whitworth’s all-time scoring list.

“George followed a path that had been blazed before him,” Logie said. “One thing is for certain, he is one of those guys that our program will point to for years on end.

Caleb Mathena

Staff Writer

 

Men's basketball team ends season with close match

Men’s basketball concluded their season after a heartbreaking 88-86 loss to 11th nationally ranked Whitman on Saturday. The Pirates’ first NCAA tournament game was their second overall loss to the Missionaries this year. The first came during the regular season, which caused the Whitworth powerhouse to drop from their No. 1 spot in the national rankings mid-season. The Pirates were off to a solid start in the first half. A 3-pointer from junior Kenny Love in the first minutes established the Bucs’ lead, which they would hold for the majority of the game. Freshmen Kyle Roach’s layup put the score to 37-17, the Pirates largest lead of the night, with about ten minutes left to play in the half.

From there, the Missionaries started to regain their footing. After the tenth minute and a series of Pirate fouls, Whitworth lost their momentum and were outscored 26-15 before the buzzer sent them into the locker room with a slim 46-43 lead.

The massive home crowd welcomed out the Pirates as they stepped back on the court, hopeful that they could stage a resurgence. Valle scored two right out of the gate, leading to another four unanswered points from the Bucs. For a moment, it seemed as if Whitworth would pull away once again until Whitman’s sophomore guard, Tim Howell, ended the Pirates’ long-standing lead and single-handedly scored the next 14 of his team’s points. Howell would go on to score a combined 32 points, 22 of which occurred in the second half alone.

Whitworth would hold the lead five more times before the end of the game. Sears picked up a block in the 11th minute of the second half and a dunk a few seconds after, putting his team within one point of the Missionaries. Junior Kenny Love sunk back-to-back 3-pointers with six minutes left, giving the Pirates a 76-75 lead.

With 14 seconds left on the clock, Love made yet another three—an apparent game-saver that rescued the Bucs from their 83-86 deficit. Yet, in literally the last second, Whitman’s Chris McDonald threw up a last-ditch shot to win and send the Whitman stands and coaches into an uproar. The final score was 88-86.

2016 NWC player of the year, Valle amassed 26 points for the night. Love scored 20 of his own, grabbed 7 rebounds, and went 5-8 from the 3-point line.

Whitworth finishes one of their best seasons in school history, 26-2.

 

Caleb Mathena

Staff Writer

Men’s team beats Lutes for conference championship

Men’s basketball improved their record to 26-1 last weekend after winning the Northwest Conference Championship for the 10th consecutive season. The Pirates defeated the University of Puget Sound Loggers last Thursday and the Pacific Lutheran University Lutes on Saturday. Unlike their previous matchup against the Loggers, the Bucs dominated almost all 40 minutes of Thursday’s NWC tournament semifinal, besting UPS 75-58. The last time the two teams faced off, senior George Valle put in a last-minute layup to avoid overtime and win the game. This time, the Bucs found themselves trailing only once.

“After watching film, we knew what we had to do to change our defensive plan,” junior Drew Sears said. “They had way too many corner threes the last time we played [UPS] so I told my guys to drive them into me, make sure they don’t shoot the threes and I’ll take care of the rest.”

The game began with a layup from Sears to give the Bucs the lead in the first few seconds. Sears would later finish out the night as the team’s leading scorer with 16 total points and four blocks.

Junior Kenny Love followed up with a 3-pointer to pull the Pirates out of their only deficit of the game in the third minute of the first half. From there on out, it was Whitworth’s game.

All five starters for the Pirates scored in double digits. Junior Christian Jurlina was second in scoring among his teammates with 13 points. Jurlina also co-led the Bucs in rebounds with Valle, who each grabbed nine. “It was just great teamwork,” Jurlina said. “We’re an unselfish team so if someone’s wide open, we’re going to pass it to them. We all have confidence in each other to knock down these shots.”

In the end, the Pirates defeated the Loggers, 75-58.

A packed Fieldhouse watched as the Pirates claimed a 75-62 victory over the PLU Lutes Saturday night.

Love started off the game with a 3-pointer 30 seconds into the first half to put the Pirates ahead early. The Lutes answered with a layup and a 3-pointer of their own to take the lead 5-3. The Bucs’ defense struggled for the next eight minutes to respond until senior Matt Staudacher’s 3-pointer brought them within one point.

“It was just basic stuff we weren’t addressing on the defensive end,” Love said. “We weren’t getting back fast enough, they were getting easy looks, and we just weren’t playing like we know we can.”

The Bucs finally found their rhythm again with 13 minutes to go in the first half when Love generated five fast points with back-to-back steals and gave the Pirates a 20-18 lead.

“Throughout the course of his career, Kenny has been a playmaker,” head coach Matt Logie said. “He can do it in a lot of different ways and our guys feed off of that. We’re really lucky to have so many different guys that can step up in those moments.”

Love opened the second half just like he did in the first, with a 3-pointer within the first few seconds, lengthening the Pirates’ lead. Love would finish the night with 23 points and four steals, leading three other double-digit scorers for the Pirates.

“I thought we finished much better than we started,” Logie said. “Our guys have kept their focus through all sorts of adversities and circumstances this year by focusing on what’s ahead.”

Despite the Lutes’ efforts to regain ground late in the game, the damage was already done. The Pirates won 70-62—their 10th time in a row as NWC champs.

Make sure to visit whitworthpirates.com to see when and where men’s basketball will play their first NCAA tournament game.

Caleb Mathena

Staff Writer

NWC Semifinals: Men's Basketball Recap

Men’s basketball stood their ground in the Fieldhouse Thursday night, defeating the University of Puget Sound Loggers 75-58 in the NWC tournament semifinals. The game began with a layup from junior Drew Sears to give the Bucs the lead in the first few seconds. Sears would later finish out the night as the team’s leading scorer with 16 total points and four blocks.

In what turned out to be an offensively explosive game, all five starters for the Pirates scored in the double-digits. Junior Christian Jurlina went 8-8 from the free throw line, secured nine rebounds, and scored a total of 13 points altogether. Junior Kenny Love finished the night with 12 points and five rebounds.

The Pirates will host Pacific Lutheran this Saturday at 7 p.m. for the conference championship game.

 

Caleb Mathena

Staff Writer

Men’s tennis ends first weekend of home matches

The men’s tennis team went one for two in their Northwest Conference openers last weekend against Lewis & Clark and George Fox. The Bucs, looking to improve on their 6-11 record from last season, fell to the Lewis & Clark team 7-2 on Saturday after three close doubles matches, which all ended 9-8 after tie breakers.

Seniors Drew Adams and Drew Brigham, the No. 1 doubles pair for the Pirates, were defeated despite an impressive comeback. Starting the match 1-4, Adams and Brigham won seven of the following 10 games to reach an 8-7 lead before their 8-9 loss.

“Early on, all the points were close,” Adams said. “We were still getting to deuce, but they were winning some of those points at the net and so we just started trying to be more aggressive and more assertive. I thought we did that better as the match went on.”

Senior Blake Miller and junior Jhun Gumboc were also down 3-2 early on in their match. The pair was able to fight back to a one-game lead for most of the match, but lost it at the very end.

Juniors Caleb Hughes and Shane Sandlin were the only winning pair for the Pirates, managing to claw their way back from a three-game gap.

Like their counterparts, the No. 3 duo was also behind 1-4 in the early stages of the match. They were unable to gain much ground until the ninth game when they won three out of the next four, putting them in the lead.

Out of the six singles matches, the Pirates won only one. Brigham beat his opponent 6-4 in the first set and 6-3 in the second.

“Personally, I feel like I served really well, which helped carry me through and gave me a solid base,” Brigham said. “I also really tried to attack his backhand, coming into the net behind it and closing out the points that way.”

Achieving an opposite result from the previous day, the Bucs won two out of three doubles matches on Sunday against the George Fox Bruins. The strong start combined with a much improved singles performance gave the Pirates what they needed for their final 6-2 victory.

Brigham and Adams lost their first match of the day 8-2 to a nationally ranked George Fox pair. After losing the first two games of the match, the duo came back to win two out of the next three games, putting the score at 3-2. But the Bruins answered by taking the last six games of the match.

“We knew we had an uphill battle [on court one] today,” head coach Mike Shanks said, “but our No. 2 and 3 guys really picked it up. Our number three is really strong for a three team and that No. 2 team really broke through. We’ve been waiting for them to jell a little bit, so that was good to see.”

No. 2 doubles pair Miller and Gumboc came out with an early 2-1 lead. The Bruins came back winning another one to tie it, but the Bucs recaptured and held their lead—securing a final score of 8-5.

Third team Hughes and Sandlin dominated with an 8-2 victory. After game three, the duo won back-to-back games for a decisive three-game lead. The Bruins were only able to win one more before Hughes and Sandlin swept the rest.

The Pirates won four out of their six singles matches. No. 3, freshman Layne Ryerson won his first and last sets 6-3, while Brigham lost his first two 6-4 and 6-2, respectively.

The Bucs travel to Oregon next weekend to face off against the Pacific University Boxers Friday at 4 p.m. and the Linfield College Wildcats Saturday 10 a.m.

 

Caleb Mathena

Staff Writer

 

 

Pirates win twice in final home weekend

The Pirates, who just recently dropped from No. 1 to No. 5 in the nation after an unexpected loss to Whitman College two weeks ago, secured two more wins last weekend against the George Fox Bruins 83-67 and Willamette Bearcats 72-53 in their final two home games of the regular season. The victories improved the Buc’s  overall record to 22-1 and 13-1 in conference. The Pirates got off to a slow start Friday night as the Bruins acquired an early lead in the first half with a quick steal and score.

“We knew going in that they were a really aggressive team that uses the 3-point line to attack you with their guard play,” head coach Matt Logie said. “We just didn’t do a great job in the first half defending against that.”

But the Bucs responded quickly and overtook George Fox with a three-point play by senior George Valle, putting the Pirates up 27-22.

Valle would go on to get ten rebounds and score 23 points before the end of the night, making it his fifth double-double of the season.

By the end of the half, Whitworth had extended their lead to 46-35, which was emphasized with a dunk by junior Drew Sears in the final minutes.

The Pirates held the Bruins scoreless for the first three minutes of the second half and increased their lead to 54-35 with consecutive scores from Jurlina, Sears and Valle. While the Bruins’ 3-point accuracy was well above their average of 37.4 percent in the first half (44.4 percent), the Bucs managed to hold them to 38.5 percent after the break.

Whitworth finished out strong, making 61.9 percent of their field goals. Their final push insured the Pirate win, 83-67.

“It was a sloppy win, but we’ll take it” Roach said. “We’ll bounce back tomorrow.”

The Pirates made the adjustment and seized the lead early in their Senior Night game against the Bearcats, scoring 11 unanswered points before their opponent was able to respond. The Pirate defense smothered Willamette, holding them to just 21 points in the first half. The Bearcats were only able to sink 23.8 percent of their shots before halftime.

The Bearcats finally got on the board around the seven-minute mark with a layup, but it was too late. The Bucs dominated the boards with 28 rebounds to their opponent’s 18. Sears led the team with 14 total rebounds, seven of which were in the first half. With 13 points of his own, Valle led the Bucs to a 33-21 lead over Willamette at the break.

“It’s a big credit to our defense,” Valle said. “Yesterday, we struggled to get stops and we weren’t contesting their 3-point shots, but today we brought the energy which allowed us to get off to a fast start.”

The second half opened with a quick three-point play by Jurlina in the first minute. Jurlina finished the night with a total of 15 points and seven rebounds. Junior guard Kenny Love also made a big impact with 13 points of his own. Love made an impressive 61.5 percent of his attempted shots.

“When you focus on the defensive end of the floor it really carries over to your offensive game,” Love said. “It was just a matter of bringing that same defensive prowess we had yesterday to today and then just trusting myself on the offensive end.”

Whitworth put it away in the end 72-53.

The Pirates travel to Tacoma next weekend for their final two regular season games against Puget Sound Friday at 8 p.m. and Pacific Lutheran Saturday at 6 p.m.

 

Caleb Mathena

Staff Writer