By Whitworth Athletics
SPOKANE, Wash. – Dustin McConnell scored a career-high 18 points to lead 14th-ranked Whitworth to a 70-61 over visiting Mary Hardin-Baylor in a non-conference men's basketball game on Friday afternoon at the Whitworth Fieldhouse.
The Pirates improved to 1-1 this season, while the visiting Crusaders dropped to 1-1.
McConnell scored 12 of his points in the second half to help Whitworth pull away over the final 11 minutes of the game. Three other Pirates reached double digits in scoring as Colton McCargar came off of the bench for 13 points while Mack Larkin and George Valle tallied a dozen points each.
Thomas Orr led UMHB with 17 points and Kitrick Bell posted a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds.
The Cru took its largest lead of the game at 13-10 on a short jumper by Russell Green before Whitworth went on a 14-2 run to open up a 24-15 advantage with 6:24 to play in the first half. Larkin hit a three and Valle scored twice during the run. But UMHB fought back to within 26-24 at the break following a three-pointer by Cory Meals and three of four free throws by James Allen. The Cru held the Pirates scoreless over the final 3:48 of the first half.
"I thought we competed hard, especially defensively in the first half to hold them to 24 points," said Whitworth head coach Matt Logie. "Though our defense set a tone we didn't close the half offensively with the right mentality."
Brian Todd and Bell scored on UMHB's first two possessions of the second half to give the Cru a 28-26 lead, but McConnell answered for the Bucs with eight straight points of his own to help Whitworth retake a 36-31 lead. The Cru took their final lead at 45-44 after Orr made three free throws, but the Pirates then went on an 11-0 run which included back to back threes by McCargar, to go up 55-45 with 7:25 to play.
Orr's three-pointer got UMHB back within 57-52 and his two free throws also got the Cru back within five points at 64-59 with 28 seconds left. But that was as close as his team could get as the Pirates went 6-6 from the line in the final 24 seconds.
"Dustin and Colton were critical for us, scoring the ball and finishing plays," Logie said. "And Zach Payne gave us great minutes inside."
McCargar's previous career high was 16 points in a win over Calvin College last December.
Whitworth made 45% (24-53) of its shots from the field, 35% (9-26) from three-point range. Valle and Wade Gebbers dished four assists each. The Pirates finished with 33 rebounds, including seven from Payne off of the bench.
UMHB shot only 36% (22-61) from the floor, including 24% (5-21) from three-point range. The Cru grabbed 40 rebounds, led by Bell's 11. Allen had three assists.
Whitworth will play at Montana Tech on November 28th in its first road game of the season.