Men's BB: Whitman Opening at Home Friday vs. Wash U; Saturday vs. B-Slugs
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- The opposition is top-notch this weekend as a ready-to-roll Whitman College men's basketball team kicks off its season against a pair of top-drawer NCAA Division III squads.
Fourth-year coach Eric Bridgeland and his band of Missionaries open at 8 p.m. Friday against Washington University (St. Louis, Mo.), a traditionally strong program that won back-to-back national championships in 2008 and 2009.
The foe for Saturday's game, which also starts at 8 p.m., is the Univeristy of California-Santa Cruz, one of the top DIII independent programs on the West Coast.
While Whitman makes its season debut Friday, Wash U will be playing its second game. The Bears opened Tuesday at home with a 91-64 over MacMurray College.
UC-Santa Cruz also opened on Tuesday, throwing a major-league scare into NCAA DI UC-Davis before losing 84-78.
The Banana Slugs then dropped a 70-54 decision, after trailing 40-30 at halftime, to Whitworth in Spokane Thursday night.
Here's a quick look at Whitman first two opponents:
Washington University Bears
Dylan Richter, a 6-foot-3 senior, hit nine of 15 shots from floor in scoring a game-high 24 points to spark Wash U past MacMurrary earlier this week.
Brayden Teuscher, a 6-foot-3 freshman, came off the bench to 17 points in 21 minutes on court. He was three of 10 from the 3-point stripe, and he added five assists and five steals.
Others contributing to the victory were 6-foot-5 sophomore Chris Klimek (12 pts, 5-7 fg), 6-foot-3 sophomore Tim Cooney (9 pts, 4 rebs, 4 asts), 6-foot junior Ben Hoener (8 pts, 7 asts, 5 rebs), and 6-foot-6 senior Alex Toth (7 rebs).
Richter made the All-University Athletic Association Second Team a year ago after averaging 15.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists.
Hoener, as a point guard, received Honorable Mention recognition while averaging 7.7 points, 4.7 assists and 3.1 rebounds.
Cooney (8.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg) and Toth (7.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg) are also returning starters. He is the winningest coach (542-251) in school history and has guided the Bears to 27 consecutive winning seasons.
Mark Edwards, now in his 31st season as head coach of the Bears, is the winningest coach in school history with a .683 winning percentage (542-251). The team has had a winning season in each of the past 27 years.
The Bears and Whitman last played on Nov. 17, 2001, in the championship game of the Lopata Classic in St. Louis. After edging Trinity (Texas) 81-80 the night before in the first round of the tournament, Whitman battled the Bears on even terms for much of the first half.
Wash U finished that first half on a 6-2 run to lead 37-29 at the break. Whitman was still within eight points, 47-39, with 13 minutes left in the game before the Bears pulled away for a 77-60 victory.
UC-Santa Cruz Banana Slugs
Five Banana Slugs scored in double digits earlier this week in the team's near upset of UC-Davis. UC-Santa Cruz led 48-44 at intermisson and were up 61-49 early in the second half before the Aggies rallied to win, raising their early-season record to 1-3.
Tyler Hunt, a 6-foot-4 senior, was three of four from the 3-point stripe (6-7 fg) and led the Banana Slugs with 15 points and five rebounds.
Contributions from that night's starters included 11 points, five assists, three rebounds and three steals from 5-foot-10 Nathan Mohri and 10 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots from 6-foot-5 senior Brent Jacobs.
Jacobs made just two of nine free throw attempts, but he and Mohri combined to go eight of 14 from the floor.
Making an impact off the bench were 5-10 senior Samuel Allen (12 pts, 4 asts, 3 rebs, 3 stls) and 6-foot-2 senior Jamien Jones (11 pts, 4-5 fg, 5 rebs).
In Thursday night's loss to Whitworth in Spokane, 6-fooot-4 sophomore Trent Reeves nailed six of seven shots from the 3-point line to score a team-high 18 points. Hunt added 10 points while Jacobs combined seven points with six rebounds.
Whitman and UC-Santa Cruz last played each other in December of 2009. Peter Clark, early in his freshman season at that point, sparked Whitman to an 88-73 victory, scoring 16 points while hitting five of eight 3-pointers.
Brandon Shaw (13 pts, 4 rebs, 4 stls, 3 asts) and David Michaels (8 pts, 7 rebs), both sophomores at the time, also made key contributions to that victory. LuQuam Thompson, then a freshman, chipped in with 10 points, four assists and three rebounds.
For a preseason look at this winter's Whitman men's team, please click here.
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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; email@example.com