by Nathan Webber
The second-ranked Bucs slipped past the Lutes of Pacific Lutheran in a hard fought battle on Thursday Night in the NWC semifinals, advancing the team to the NWC championship game.
This was a tale of the halves as Whitworth was shooting just 36.4 percent from the field in the first half but came out refreshed in the second, shooting 60.9 percent.
Being led by Michael Taylor’s 30 points, Whitworth (25-1) ended the game on a 19-9 run with 5 minutes left in the second half. Felix Friedt and David Riley were the only other Pirates in double figures with 20of their combined 22 points coming in the second half.
PLU, finishing their season 15-10, had a very strong first half. Starting the game on a 12-5 run, the Lutes kept the Pirates to the lowest scoring half of basketball they have played this season, finishing the halfwith 28 points.
The Lutes and Bucs fought a close on the entire game having 13 total lead changes. PLU’s Andrew Earnest led the team with 14 points, including a buzzer beating 3-pointer at the end of the half wherethe Lutes went up 32-28.
Whitworth came back and finished the game from the line making 12 consecutive free throws.
Whitworth will host Whitman, the only team to beat the Pirates this year, for the NWC Championship on Saturday night at 7 p.m.