Men's Hoops Plays for NWC Title Tomorrow at Whitworth
Walla Walla, Wash. -- The Missionaries and Pirates will play the rubber match in their thriving rivalry when the two hook-up Saturday night in Spokane for the Northwest Conference Championships Finals, the winner gaining an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.
Player of the Year, Ben Eisenhardt
The No. 2 seed Missionaries (19 - 7) defeated No. 3 George Fox Thursday night 90 - 78 at Sherwood Center in one semi while Whitworth (No. 1 seed) held on to beat George Fox (No. 4) 74 - 69 at the Whitworth Fieldhouse.
The two teams split their regular season series -- both barnburners -- with the No. 8 ranked Pirates (23 - 3) outlasting the Whits 112 - 100 in double OT in Spokane and the Missionaries knocking off the Pirates, who were ranked third in the nation, 93 - 90 in overtime in Walla Walla, snapping the Pirates 20-game winning streak. Saturday's meeting will also be the second time in three years that the two schools have met in the NWC Finals, Whitworth prevailing in 2011 at home, 74 - 50.
The Pirates placed two players on the All-Conference First Team: guards Wade Gebbers and Dustin McConnell -- who ranks third in 3 point field-goal percentage (44 % per game). The Missionaries tout the NWC Player of the Year, though, in Ben Eisenhardt (Jr., Bainbridge Island, WA) who ranked fourth in conference scoring (16.2 ppg) and seventh in rebounding (6.1 rpg).
Clay Callahan, So.
The teams hold down the top two spots in offensive scoring -- the Missionaries with a conference best 90.5 per game (No. 3 in NCAA Div. III), the Pirates 78.8. Whitman also tops the conference in steals (12 per game) and in the last meeting, had 3 pilfers against the Bucs -- 3 by guard Clay Callahan (So., Corvalis, OR).
Whitworth has the second ranked scoring defense in the NWC, holding opponents to 66.2 per contest, the Whits average 77.6 points but rank first in the NWC and 15th in the nation in scoring margin (+13).
After having their winning streak broken by the Missionaries on February 5, the Pirates dropped a second straight game, this time at home, to George Fox, before rebounding to win their final two regular season games on the road to clinch the No. 1 Seed. Whitman has won 10 of 11, and 8 straight (matching an earlier 8 game run early in the season).
The Bucs are 12 - 2 at home this season. The Whits are 6 - 5 on the road but have won their last three away from Sherwood.
Tip-off at Whitworth Fieldhouse is 7 pm. Whitman is providing two fan buses that will leave from Harper Joy Theatre at 2:30 pm Saturday. The ride is "free of charge." To reserve a seat, contact Victoria Johnson at the Whitman Athletic Department at (509) 527-5921 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For live video of the game: mms://media.whitworth.edu/events
Whitman Sports Information Director