Men's BB Rallies Past Oaks for 77-72 Win
News Release Date:
Friday, December 10
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Overcoming a tough night at the free throw line, Whitman College scratched and hustled its way past Menlo College in the closing minutes for a 77-72 non-conference men's basketball victory Friday night in Sherwood Center.
Whitman, improving to 4-4 on the season, led by eight points early in the second half, fell behind by eight with seven minutes left to play, and then tallied the game's final six points to pull out the victory.
Menlo, an NAIA school, saw its season record slip to 2-6.
Senior Justin Artis, who sparked the late comeback with a critical steal and two offensive rebounds, nailed a three from well beyond the arc to trim Whitman's deficit to 69-68 with 3:25 remaining.
After Artis made one of two free throws on Whitman's next possession to knot the score at 69, freshman Josh Duckworth added two more free throws to forge the night's final tie at 71 with 2:18 left.
On Menlo's next trip down the floor, Nick McCullar collared an offensive rebound and scored what proved to be final point of the night for the Oaks when he converted one of two free throws.
Duckworth responded at the other end, sweeping across the key to bank home a shot that put Whitman back in front 73-72 with 1:50 on the clock.
After Menlo missed its next shot, junior Brandon Shaw drove to the hoop for a basket that extended the Missionary lead to three points.
Menlo misfired again but a Whitman turnover with 30 seconds left gave the Oaks new life. The visitors failed to connect on two three-point tries, the second of which came with just 10 seconds left.
Sophomore Drew Raher was fouled on the inbounds pass and went to the free throw line, needing at least one to grant the Missionaries immunity from the possibility of a game-tying 3-pointer.
On a night when Whitman managed to make just 15 of 32 free throws, Raher knocked down both of his freebies to clinch the win.
Shaw led Whitman with 16 points, but Duckworth added 14 and was one of the few Missionaries to have any luck at the line, where he made six of eight.
Whitman also got 12 points, six rebounds and five steals from Artis along with 12 points from sophomore Peter Clark, who canned four 3-pointers. Sophomore Ignas Pavilonis connected three times from 3-point range for nine points.
Julian Harris paced Menlo with 22 points and five rebounds. Tim Tatum added 10 points and seven boards, and Tyler Rajnus chipped in with 10 points.
Whitman forced Menlo into 23 turnovers and managed to hold its own on the backboards. The Oaks finished with a 40-36 rebounding edge, although the Missionaries battled their way to 15 offensive boards. Ryan Gilkey, a 6-foot-9 freshman, picked five balls of the offensive class and blocked three shots on defense.
Menlo took charge early in the first half, breaking free from a 9-9 stalemate to grab an 18-10 advantage.
Whitman rallied from the 3-point stripe, getting two long balls from Pavilonis and one from Clark to draw within a point at 20-19 with 10 minutes left.
After the Oaks moved back in front 26-20, Clark and Pavilonis struck again from beyond the arc to forge the second tie of the half. Harris countered with a three for Menlo, but baskets by Artis and Duckworth, followed by two Gilkey free throws, vaulted Whitman into a 34-31 lead.
Harris came back with another three-ball for a 34-34 deadlock. Baskets by Duckworth and Harris, and two more Gilkey charity tosses helped the Missionaries finish the half with a two-point edge.
Whitman held the upper hand early in the second half, getting points from Clark, Artis, Shaw and Duckworth to go up 50-42 at the 16:49 mark. But that's when Menlo came charging back on a 19-3 run that produced a 61-53 lead for the Oaks.
Whitman's next games are in late December at the Cactus Jam Hoop Classic in Phoenix, Ariz.
The Missionaries face Pennsylvania's Immaculata University on Monday, Dec. 27 (7 p.m.) and play Iowa's Simpson College at 5 p.m. Dec. 28.
On the way home from those two games, Whitman swings by California's University of Redlands for a final non-conference game on Thursday, Dec. 30.
Whitman resumes Northwest Conferece play on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 7-8, when it hosts Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound.
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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; firstname.lastname@example.org