Nationally Ranked Whitworth Defeats Bearcats, 86-69, in NWC Opener

Jordan Jenkins (Sr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS)
Jordan Jenkins (Sr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Whitworth University, ranked #14 in the Top 25 Poll, took a 44-33 halftime lead and remained in front by double digits throughout the second half, as the Pirates downed Willamette University, 86-69, in the NWC opener for both teams on Friday, Nov. 30 at the Whitworth Fieldhouse. Whitworth upped its record to 4-1 overall, 1-0 in the NWC, while Willamette slipped to 0-5 on the season, 0-1 in the NWC.

Jordan Jenkins (Sr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS) of Willamette led all players with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting and 3-for-3 at the free throw line. Jenkins also provided the Bearcats with seven boards and three assists. He is Willamette's leading scorer with 16.2 points per game.

Sophomore wing Alec Barba (Dallas, OR/Central HS) contributed a career-high 18 points for the Bearcats, surpassing his previous high of 15 points scored against LeTourneau University (Texas) in the season opener. At Whitworth on Friday, Barba hit 5 of 9 field goals, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range. He leads Willamette with 15 three-pointers this season. Trent Callan (Sr., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) produced 10 points, while Jonathan Watts (Fr., G, San Diego, CA/Rancho Bernardo HS) finished with seven points along with team-highs of nine rebounds and eight assists.

Whitworth's offensive effort was topped by Kyle Roach with 17 points and seven assists. He was 7 of 15 from the field. Jordan Lester earned 12 points, six boards and three assists. Garrett Hull scored 11 points, while Ben College accumulated 10 points. Jared Christy was credited with nine points and 10 rebounds. The Pirates shot 51.6% on field goals (32 of 62), including 50.0% from behind the 3-point line (8 of 16).

The Bearcats scored the game's first five points on a jumper by CJ Walker (Jr., P, Placentia, CA/Mayfair HS) and a 3-pointer by Jenkins. Willamette owned a 7-1 lead after Jenkins hit two free throws with 17;33 remaining in the half. Whitworth went on a 10-2 run to take an 11-9 lead on a 3-pointer by Lester with 13:45 on the clock.

Willamette regained the lead at 12-11 just 19 seconds later on Barba's first 3-pointer of the night. Another 3-pointer, this time by Whitworth's Kevin Crosno, pushed the Pirates in front, 14-12, at the 12:34 mark.  Watts tied the score with a jumper, before Whitworth tallied seven unanswered points for a 21-14 lead with 9:53 left in the half.

A pair of 3-pointers by Barba reduced the lead to 21-20. The Bearcats pulled within a single point two more times, but an 11-4 run by the Pirates gave Whitworth a 36-28 advantage with 4:04 left. Whitworth's lead reached 41-30 on a free throw by Hull with 1:10 to play. Callan converted a traditional play for Willamette with 41 seconds on the clock and Roach did the same for Whitworth with 30 seconds left.

Lester scored on a layup for the Pirates 20 seconds into the second half. A 3-pointer by Watts and a fast-break layup by Jenkins pulled the Bearcats within 46-38 with 18:26 remaining. Roach scored layups to start and end a 5-0 run by Whitworth, which increased the lead to 13 points at 51-38. A basket and foul shot by Jenkins at the 15:50 mark reduced the margin to 51-41.

The Pirates responded with a dunk by Ben Bishop and a 3-pointer by College for a 56-41 advantage with 14:59 left. Willamette did not get closer than 11 points the rest of the game. Whitworth led 81-61 on a 3-pointer by Christy with 2:32 to go.

Willamette shot 52.0% from the field in the second half (13 of 25) to end the game at 43.3% overall (26 of 60). The Bearcats sank 8 of 23 shots from 3-point range (34.8%). Whitworth gained a 39-32 rebounding margin, but had just one more offensive rebound than the Bearcats (10-9). The Pirates forced Willamette into 12 turnovers, while Whitworth lost possession just seven times.

The Bearcats will take on #6-ranked Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, on Saturday, Dec. 1. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. (PST).

Alec Barba (So., W, Dallas, OR/Central HS)

Big Moment of the Game for Willamette

Alec Barba scored three of his five 3-point baskets in the first half.
His initial 3-pointer of the night gave Willamette a 12-11 lead at the
13:26 mark. Later, after the Bearcats fell behind by seven points, Barba
sank back-to-back 3-pointers to reduce Whitworth's lead to 21-20 with
9:11 left in the half. Barba ended the game with a career-high 18 points.
He leads the Bearcats with 15 three-pointers this season.