by Andrew Goodwin | Sports Editor
The Whitworth men’s basketball season ended much earlier than the team hoped as the Bucs dropped the opening matchup of the NCAA Tournament 78-73 to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
In a game where Whitworth had the height advantage, the CMS offense scored 28 more points in the paint than the Pirates. Junior forward Kendrick Morris paced the Stags with 24 points on 12-18 shooting from the field.
CMS turned 14 Pirate turnovers into 17 points. In contrast, the Bucs turned the same number of Stag turnovers into nine points. As a result, CMS led for much of the game, only allowing Whitworth to have control for three minutes and 25 seconds.
The Pirates took their first lead of the game with 11:14 left in the second half. Down 49-41 with 17:51 remaining, Whitworth went on a 13-2 run to take the lead on a three by Kyle Roach, ‘19. From there, the game turned into a back and forth affair with both teams matching each other’s runs into the final minutes.
Unfortunately for the Pirates, in the final minutes they failed to hang on to the ball. Whitworth was unable to put up a shot for a minute and a half as the game headed to a close. The Bucs were only able to stay in the game thanks to clutch defense and had a chance to win in the last minute.
Senior guard Kenny Love nearly made the most of that chance, but officials waved off Love’s three-point make due to a Stag foul prior to the shot. Benny Nick, ‘20, would miss the resulting free throws, before CMS sealed the game by making free throws of their own.
Love led the Pirates with 16 points on the night, edging out fellow senior Christian Jurlina’s 15. Jurlina led the Pirates on the glass with seven rebounds, and Ben College, ‘20, helped keep Whitworth in the game with lights-out three point shooting.