20th ranked Whitworth Pirates fall at home to rival Whitman

Whitworth Pirate Liam Fitzgerald dunks the ball against Whitworth
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SPOKANE, Wash. — Robert Colton totaled 25points and 12 rebounds to lead visiting Whitman to an 89-80 win at 20th-ranked Whitworth on Tuesday night, handing the Pirates their first Northwest Conference men’s basketball setback of the season in first of two Battle of Whits in 2020.

The Blues improved to 12-4 overall and 7-0 in the NWC with their 63rd straight conference regular season victory.  The Pirates dropped to 12-4, 6-1 with unbeaten Linfield (12-3, 6-0) visiting the Whitworth Fieldhouse on Friday night.

Whitman took an early 11-8 lead on Colton’s layup before Whitworth went on a 13-4 run to go ahead 21-15 on a three-pointer by Isaiah Hernandez.  The Pirates stretched the lead to 27-19 on a Ben College basket with just over eight minutes to play in the half.  College drained a three-pointer for a 34-31 Pirate lead with three and a half minutes left, but Whitman closed the first half on a 10-0 run to take a 41-34 lead into the break.

The Blues made 49% (18-37) from the field in the first half while holding the Pirates to 37%.  Whitworth came into the game with the fourth-best team field goal percentage in NCAA Division III (50.9).

Hernandez led Whitworth with 12 points in the opening period.

After Garrett Hull opened the second half with a Pirate basket to get his team within five, Whitman pulled out to a 56-43 lead four minutes into the period.  Trevor Osborne hit back-to-back three-pointers in the run.  Whitworth responded with a 13-0 run over the next four minutes to tie the game.  Sam Lees scored seven of those points for the Bucs.

Whitman jumped back ahead 63-59 on Colton’s three-point play before the Pirates rallied to take a 67-63 lead on Liam Fitzgerald’s put-back with just under nine minutes to play.  After JT McDermott tied things a final time at 74-74, Whitman made the game’s key run with eight straight points over the next two minutes, taking an 82-74 lead on Andrew Vickers’ three-pointer with 3:22 to play.  Whitworth got within 84-80 on a Hernandez layup with 1:38 to go, but could not score again.

Hernandez finished with a career-high 23 points and dished four assists.  College scored 20, while Fitzgerald and Reed Brown had ten apiece.  Fitzgerald got his first career double-double with ten boards.

Colton finished 10 of 16 from the floor, thanks in part to nine offensive rebounds leading to several second chance opportunities.  Vickers added 19 points and Osborne finished with 15.

Whitman earned its fourth straight win over Whitworth and fifth in a row over the Bucs at the Whitworth Fieldhouse.