Pirates Top Lewis & Clark, Advance to NWC FInals - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Pirates Top Lewis & Clark, Advance to NWC FInals

SPOKANE, Wash. – Wade Gebbers scored 22 points and 8th-ranked Whitworth will play for a seventh straight trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament after the Pirates defeated visiting Lewis & Clark 74-69 in the Northwest Conference tournament semifinals on Thursday night.

Whitworth improved to 23-3 and will host Whitman College in Saturday's NWC Tournament Championship game at 7:00 pm.  The Missionaries (19-7) topped George Fox 90-78 in tonight's other semifinal.  The winner of Saturday's game receives the NWC's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Lewis & Clark (16-10) stayed right with the Pirates despite the fact that the Pioneers did not have All-NWC guard James Hollins in the lineup.

"Lewis & Clark played really hard and shot the ball really well," said Whitworth head coach Matt Logie.  "But tonight our experienced guys really stepped up when the game was in the balance."

The Pirates jumped out quickly, taking a 10-4 lead on Colton McCargar's three-pointer and stretching the advantage to 20-9 following a three by Gebbers.  When Gebbers pulled up for a short jumper that made the score 27-15, Whitworth had taken its largest lead of the game.  But the Pioneers closed the half by outscoring the Pirates 13-7.  Dexter Pearce scored eight of those final 13 points for L&C.

Dustin McConnell's three-pointer gave Whitworth a 39-33 lead early in the second half.  But the Pioneers then went on a 9-0 run – three-pointers by Ross Erickson, Pearce and Serg Ovchinnikov – to grab their only lead of the game at 42-39.  The Pirates responded with a 12-1 run over the next four minutes to go back up 51-43 with 10:56 to play.  Gebbers had five points in the run.

Whitworth still led 70-63 when L&C closed to within 70-67 on Connor Freeberg's basket with 1:21 to go.  After an exchange of scoreless possessions, Taylor Farnsworth made a pair of free throws for the Bucs with 21 seconds to go before Freeberg scored again with 14.5 to play.  McCargar clinched the game with two more free throws with two seconds left.

"Wade got hot in the second half and Colton and Dustin both made big shots," Logie said.  "And we cleaned up the defensive glass in the second half, which was big."

Gebbers was 8-16 from the field, 6-13 from three-point range, for his 22 points.  George Valle contributed 16 points while McCargar finished with 14.  McConnell totaled 13 points, six assists and seven rebounds.   Whitworth shot 48% (28-58) from the field, 52% (13-25) from beyond the arc.

Pearce led L&C with 19 points, making 5-9 from beyond the arc.  Ovchinnikov made 5-7 from three-point range for 15 points and Erickson totaled twelve points and seven boards.  The Pioneers shot 44% (25-57) from the field, 52% (12-23) from beyond the arc. 

L&C outrebounded Whitworth 38-29, but the Pirates held a 13-8 advantage in turnovers.

Whitworth will play in its eighth consecutive NWC tournament title game.  The Pirates have won 11 NWC tournament games in a row since falling to Puget Sound in the 2006 NWC tournament final.