Fourth-Ranked Pirates Extend Slim Lead Late in First Half, Down Bearcats, 88-69

Dart and Babcock-Krenk each Score 13 Points for Willamette

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SPOKANE, WASH. -- The nationally ranked Whitworth University men's basketball team extended a slim one-point lead with a 15-1 run in the final 4:51 of the first half, as the Pirates took charge in an 88-69 victory over Willamette University on Friday, Jan. 18 at the Whitworth Fieldhouse.

Whitworth, ranked #4 in the D3hoops.com Top 25 Poll, used the victory to improve to 15-1 on the season. The Pirates lead the Northwest Conference at 7-0. Willamette, which entered the game tied for second place in the NWC, fell to 6-9 overall and to 3-3 in the conference.

The Bearcats trailed just 29-28 after Sean Dart (Sr., Post, Bend, OR/Mountain View HS/Eastern Oregon Univ.) hit 1 of 2 free throws with 5:13 remaining in the first half.

A layup by George Valle of Whitworth 22 seconds later started the Pirates' offensive surge. Valley also contributed a second field goal later in the run. Whitworth led 44-29 at halftime and Willamette never go closer than 12 points during the second half.

Dustin McConnell led Whitworth with 23 points on 8 of 10 shooting, including 3 of 4 on 3-point attempts. Colton McCargar tacked on 17 points, while Valley finished with 16 points and six rebounds. The Pirates achieved a 37-31 rebounding margin and shot 50.0% for the game (32 of 64), including 56.3% (18 of 32) in the first half.

Dart and Elliot Babcock-Krenk (Sr., Wing, Lake Oswego, OR/Lake Oswego HS/Humboldt State Univ.) scored 13 points apiece for Willamette. Dart was 4 for 5 from the field to go along with six rebounds and three assists.

Alex Hansen (Jr., G, Reno, NV/Galena HS) contributed eight points for the Bearcats, while Trevor Bos (Sr., G, Lakewood, CA/St. John Bosco HS) earned five points and five assists.

Terrell Malley (Sr., G, Portland, OR/Roosevelt HS), WU's leading scorer for the season at 15.3 points per game prior to the contest, scored just seven points, as Whitworth limited his offensive chances. Malley was 3 for 5 from the field and 1 for 2 at the free throw line.

Willamette scored the game's first three points on a shot by Oliver Hughes (Sr., Wing, Salt Lake City, UT/Judge Memorial HS) from behind the arc. Whitworth then took a 4-3 lead on a pair of baskets by Valle. The Bearcats moved back in front with a layup from Dart at the 17:50 mark. It was the beginning of a half that was very close for the first 15 minutes.

In fact, the opening period featured six ties and seven lead changes before Whitworth closed the session with its 15-1 run. The Pirates did threaten to move out a bit earlier in the half, but the Bearcats overcame a 16-9 deficit at the 13:05 mark to take a 20-18 lead on a jumper by Malley with 9:56 left on the clock.

During the first half, Willamette made nine of its first 11 shots, but made only two of its next 11 attempts.

Whitworth expanded its lead to 52-33 with 16:33 remaining in the game following a layup by Valle. The Bearcats responded with seven consecutive points, starting with layups by Dart and Alex Brown (So., Wing/Post, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) and finishing with a 3-pointer by Hansen. Willamette trailed 52-40 with 14:15 to go.

The Pirates countered with a 17-5 run that pushed the margin to 69-47 with 9:24 left. McConnell tallied 12 points during the run, while McCargar registered the other five points. Willamette reduced the deficit to 79-65 with 4:23 still to be played, but couldn't sustain the rally.

Willamette finished the game at 47.2% from the field (25 of 53), including 9 of 23 (39.1%) on 3-point shots. The Bearcats made 10 of 17 free throws (58.8%).

On the way to hitting 32 of 64 field goals, Whitworth converted 8 of 16 three-pointers. The Pirates connected on 16 of 20 free throws (80.0%).

The Bearcats will conclude the weekend road trip with a game at Whitman College on Saturday, Jan. 19. Game time in Walla Walla, Wash., is set for 8 p.m. (PST).

BOX SCORE

Whitworth University 88
Willamette University 69

Sean Dart hit 4 of 5 field goals on his way to scoring 13 points against Whitworth. He also earned six rebounds and three assists.

Sean Dart hit 4 of 5 field goals on his way to scoring 13 points against Whitworth. He also earned six rebounds and three assists.