Men's Basketball Looks to Secure Home Playoff Game and Co-Championship on Final Weekend
Walla Walla, Wash. -- Securing a home conference tournament game and a share of the Northwest Conference title are on the line as the Missionaries face Willamette and Linfield this Friday and Saturday on the road in the last two games of the regular season.
The Whits (10 – 4) currently hold down the second spot in the NWC with George Fox (9 – 5) clipping at their heels. Whitworth (12 – 2) still stands atop the standings but has suffered two consecutive losses, both, to Whitman and George Fox. For complete NWC standings click Standings.
Friday’s opponent, Willamette, sits just one game out of last place at 4 – 10 in conference and 7 – 16 overall. The Bearcats have lost 6 straight, their last win coming against Linfield 68 – 67. Earlier this season in Walla Walla, Willamette gave the Missionaries a run for their money before falling 94 – 87, shooting guard Terrell Malley peppering the Whits for 23. Ben Eisenhardt (Jr., Bainbridge Island, WA) led Whitman with 27.
Coincidentally, Malley ranks third in conference scoring at 16.8 per game and Eisenhardt second at 17.0. “Big Ben” ranks fifth in FG % at 54.6 %, as well. Willamette touts a stout big man, of their own, in post Sean Dart who averages 11.6 ppg., 58.9 % from the field (3rd NWC), and 8.5 rebounds (1st). Dart had 18 points and 4 rebounds in the first meeting.
Linfield (4 – 19) also has an imposing front-courter in center Andrew Batiuk, the conference’s leading scorer at 18.6 per game and the second leading rebounder at 8.3. In their first meeting, a 102 – 53 Whitman rout, the Missionaries limited Batiuk to 5 points and 2 rebounds before he left the game midway through the second half, after taking a hard fall. The forty-nine point margin of victory was the Whits’ biggest of the season.
Entering the weekend, Whitman ranks eighteenth nationally in scoring margin (12.4) and third in scoring offense (91.4); those totals are both tops in the NWC. The Missionaries also lead the conference in assists (13.4 apg). On the defensive side, the Whits rank seventh nationally and first in the NWC in steals, swiping the ball away, on average, 11.9 times per game.
Whitman (16 – 7) has won 7 of their last 8, including upending No. 3 Whitworth in overtime and coming from nineteen down in the second half to defeat Lewis and Clark 74 – 71. Linfield, Saturday evening’s opponent broke an 8 – game losing streak by beating Puget Sound in its last game 77 – 66.
Tip-off for Friday’s game at Willamette is 8 pm, for Saturday’s game at Linfield 6 pm.
Live Video Streaming: Willamette http://www.willamette.edu/athletics/bearcatnetwork/live/index.php
Live Stats: Willamette http://livestats.willamette.edu/live/mbb/
Whitman Sports Information Director