SPOKANE, Wash. -- No. 7-ranked Whitworth used a late first half run to pull away from the Covenant men's basketball team and take a 93-62 victory over the Scots on Friday night in Spokane.
The loss drops Covenant to 4-3 on the year. Whitworth, ranked No. 7 in the latest D3Hoops.com Top 25, improves to 5-1 for the season. Whitworth is the second nationally-ranked foe Covenant has faced this year, joining Emory, and is also the third 2016 NCAA Tournament participant the Scots have faced on the season. Covenant will face its third ranked foe and fourth NCAA Tournament team on Saturday at No. 4 Whitman.
Covenant hung right with the nationally-ranked Pirates for much of the first half. The teams traded baskets through the first three-plus minutes as a layup from Connor Sears gave the Scots an 8-7 lead at the 16:44 mark. Covenant would go the next five minutes without a field goal, but tied the game at 15-15 on a 3-pointer from Sears with 11:16 remaining in the period.
But Whitworth found its groove offensively and started to pull away from Covenant in the final six minutes of the half. A 3-pointer from Z Arima sliced the Covenant deficit to 23-21 with 6:54 left in the half, but the Pirates outscored Covenant 23-8 the rest of the way to take a 46-29 lead into the break. Whitworth shot 64 percent (16-of-25) in the first half, while Covenant managed 35.5 percent (11-of-31).
In the second half, Whitworth quickly extended the lead to 21 points and the margin would stay in that range for the majority of the final half.
Sears led the way for Covenant with 12 points to go along with three rebounds. Berto Dryden and Arima each had 10 points and Patjo Twagirayezu scored six of his eight points on the night in the first half. Caleb Haynes recorded a team-high five rebounds and Bailey Spragg collected five steals.
Covenant shot 39.1 percent (25-of-64) from the field, while Whitworth connected on 60 percent (33-of-55) for the game. The Scots forced Whitworth into 20 turnovers and converted those into 22 points, but the host Pirates made up for that deficiency by making nine 3-pointers and 18-of-23 from the foul line.
Christian Jurlina scored 17 first half points and ended with 20 points and nine rebounds for the Pirates. Ben College scored a game-high 28 points, with six 3-pointers, off the bench while Kyle Roach and Drew Sears had 13 points apiece. Kenny Love added seven points and nine assists in the win.
Covenant will have a quick turnaround as they travel to Walla Walla, Wash., on Saturday to take on No. 4-ranked Whitman. Tip-off is set for 11 p.m. EST (8 p.m. PST).
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