Men's Basketball Team Wins 8th in a Row With Victory over Simpson
Walla Walla, Wash. – Forward Ben Eisenhardt scored a season-high 29 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while Sophomore Matt Mounier dropped in 22, matching his season-best, and had 5 steals as the Whitman Missionaries claimed their 8th straight win in downing Simpson College of Iowa, 91 – 86.
Matt Mounier, So.
The Storm made several runs at the Missionaries in the 2nd half, cutting the lead to single digits but each time Whitman countered and pushed its advantage back to double digits. With less than a minute remaining, the Storm hit consecutive treys, the second by Charles Swain who ended up with a game-high 31 points, to cut the lead down to 4 with 12-seconds left in regulation. Mounier (Encino, CA) then sank a free throw to make it a 5-point margin and Simpson was left to throw up desperation three as time ran out.
The victory puts Whitman at 8 – 2 overall, as the Missionaries have not lost since dropping their first two games to highly ranked St. Thomas and Division 1 UC Riverside (on the road). Whitman Head Coach, Eric Bridgeland, noted the significance of the win against a quality opponent and his team’s effort during the latter part of this winning streak. “I’m just proud of our guys . . . and to stay focused this week has been tough. All the students are gone after finals”, he said. “Simpson is really good and I have a tremendous amount of respect for their coaching staff . . . and for us to lead most of the game makes me really proud of our guys. It’s not our best but we were in control all of the way.”
Ben Eisenhardt, Jr.
Simpson, who fell to 4 – 6, with the loss, matched the Missionaries basket-for-basket in the early going and took an 18 – 10 lead on an Austin Hennings 3-pointer at the 15:20 mark. The Storm would maintain an 8-point advantage at 21 – 13 when Swain completed a conventional three-point play with just over 12 minutes left. Then, Whitman’s defensive pressure began to take effect and the Missionaries whittled down the lead, reclaiming it when Peter Clark (Sr, Flagstaff, AZ) converted two free throws to give Whitman a 28 – 27 advantage with 10:54 left on the halftime clock.
The Whitties continued to edge out in front, entering halftime with a 55 – 48 lead. Eisenhardt had 15 points on 7 of 9 shooting from the floor and a free throw to boot. The Storm outshot the Missionaries 53 to 46-percent, but the Whitman forced Simpson into 16 turnovers. For the game, the Storm committed 26 turnovers to the Missionaries 16. Simpson cooled off in the 2nd half, finishing the game shooting 48 % from the field – Whitman 45 %.
Eisenhardt (Jr, Baindbridge Island, WA) had his biggest game of the season as he continually made big buckets inside on nifty post moves, and threw down a one-hand jam after a loose ball scramble that gave the Missionaries a big boost in the second stanza. In addition, he drew several charging fouls. “Nobody plays harder than Ben Eisenhardt”, noted Bridgeland. “People always look at his scoring but he takes so many charges to the chest and his body is beat up and his knees are bloody. Most of our guys are like that, but for a 6-10 guy, that doesn’t happen very often.”
Other double-figure scorers for the Missionaries included Josh Duckworth (Jr, Los Angeles, CA) with 16 and Clark with 10.