BELTON, Texas — Jack Loofburrow scored eight points to spark a late 10-0 run that sparked No. 7 Whitworth out of a second half scoring slump and to a 64-53 win against Trinity (Texas) in the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament on Saturday night at the Mayborn Center on the campus of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
The Pirates, who came to this regional as the only school not from the state of Texas, improved to 26-3 and advance to their third consecutive NCAA Division III round of 16 and their fourth overall. The Tigers, who knocked off 10-ranked UMHB on its home floor on Friday night, finish the season 21-9.
Idris Lasisi scored 17 of his game-high 22 points in the first half to help Whitworth take a 33-23 lead into the locker rooms. He hit a pair of 3-pointers to help the Bucs jump to a quick 15-5 lead. That separation remained between eight and eleven points for most of the rest of the half before Trinity got within 30-23 on a 3-pointer by Matt Selling. But Mack Larkin’s offensive rebound and put back basket led to a 3-point play with just over a minute to go in the period and a ten-point lead at the break for the Bucs.
Lasisi and Larkin drilled a pair of threes right out of the gate in the second half and by the time Larkin came up with a steal and acrobatic behind-the-back pass to Dustin McConnell for a fastbreak layup and another 3-point play the Pirates had opened a 46-25 lead with just over 16 minutes to play in the game.
But then the Pirates got cold. Whitworth would not make a basket for the next ten minutes of game time and Trinity took advantage. The Tigers turned up the defensive pressure and outscored the Pirates 19-1 to pull within 47-44. Felix Friedt hit three of four free throws to extend Whitworth’s lead back to six with just over seven minutes to go, but Jonathan Wilt hit a three to get Trinity back within three. He had another look at a three on the next possession that would have tied the game, but missed.
Then Loofburrow took over, hitting a long three from the left wing with 5:59 to go. It was Whitworth’s first field goal since the 16:27 mark. Following a layup by McConnell, Loofburrow grabbed an offensive rebound and scored a putback basket, then nailed an even longer three that extended the Pirates’ lead back to 60-47 with 3:51 to play. Trinity got the lead back below 10 points once (60-51), but Lasisi and Friedt went a combined 4-4 from the line in the final two minutes to ice the game.
Lasisi hit 6-11 from 3-point range to account for most of his 22 points. He added seven rebounds and four assists. Friedt scored 12 points and grabbed eight boards. He was 10-12 at the free throw line as Trinity made sure Friedt would not repeat his 35-point performance on Friday. Loofburrow finished with 13 points and five rebounds. Wade Gebbers did not score, but dished a game-high seven assists.
Zach Lambert had 14 points for Trinity, while Selling scored 11 off of the bench. Wilt finished with ten for the Tigers.
Whitworth will take on No. 6 Virginia Wesleyan in the sectional semifinal next Friday. Wisconsin-Whitewater will play Wheaton (Ill.) in the other. The location of the sectional rounds of the tournament will be announced by the NCAA on Sunday night.