SPOKANE, Wash. – Trailing for all but the final 2 minutes, 53 seconds, Whitworth staged one of its patented comebacks at the Fieldhouse, using a 3-pointer from Dustin McConnell with 41 seconds remaining and Colton McCargar’s two free throws with 13 seconds left to seal a tense 65-61 Northwest Conference victory over Linfield.
Linfield frosh Andrew Batiuk netted a game-high 24 points and added seven rebounds, David Lee delivered a season-high 17 points, and Zach Anderson added 11 points and seven boards in a losing effort. Dakotah Pine dished four assists.
Lee went toe-to-toe with the NWC’s best big man, Felix Friedt, outscoring the Pirates rugged center 17-10. But Friedt used his size advantage to snag a game-high 15 rebounds.
Balanced scoring propelled the Wildcats to a seven-point advantage in a low-scoring first half, 29-22. Lee made all five of his field goal attempts in the period as Linfield shot .480 from the floor to Whitworth’s .381. The seven-point deficit was Whitworth’s largest halftime deficit of the season.
Lee scored almost three minutes into the second period to give the ‘Cats their largest lead of the game at 36-27. But the Pirates scored the next nine points to tie the game at 36 after Wade Gebbers converted a 3-point play. That sequence set a tone for the rest of the half as every time Whitworth worked back into a tie, Linfield answered.
Batiuk’s jumper gave the Wildcats a 43-38 lead with 11:20 to play, before Idris Lasisi hit a three for Whitworth from the top of the circle to tie the game 47-47 three minutes later. Back-to-back threes by Batiuk gave Linfield a 53-47 advantage before Lasisi got the Pirates back within 53-52 with a pair of free throws. Lee converted a 3-point play with 4:40 to go to give Linfield a 58-54 lead.
Whitworth outscored Linfield 11-3 the rest of the way. The final run began with a Lasisi 3-pointer that got the Bucs within one and Gebbers’ layup put Whitworth ahead by one. The teams traded baskets and Batiuk’s final shot with 57 seconds to play gave the visitors their last lead at 61-60. That’s when McConnell hit his three from the left wing on the Pirates’ next possession to put Whitworth ahead to stay. As Linfield worked for a potential game-tying shot, Lasisi came up with the biggest steal of the game with 16 seconds left and McCargar calmly made the game-clinching free throws with 13 seconds left.
Lasisi led Whitworth with 23 points and Gebbers added 11 points. McConnell finished with 10 points and four assists, while McCargar scored nine.
Whitworth has now won of 41 of its last 42 NWC games.
COMING UP: Linfield heads to Tacoma for a Friday night NWC matchup at Puget Sound. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. with live internet play-by-play starting at approximately 7:50. Whitworth hosts Whitman Tuesday night.
Hits 8-of-10 shots from the field
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