BB Men Persevere, Sink Simpson in OT
News Release Date:
Tuesday, December 28
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Running its non-conference record to 6-2 with a fourth straight victory, a resilient Whitman College men's basketball team overcame Iowa's Simpson College 81-76 in overtime Tuesday night at the Cactus Jam Hoop Classic in Phoenix, Ariz.
"This is our biggest win of the season," Whitman coach Eric Bridgeland said. "We fought through some major adversity and overcame it."
Whitman led by as many as 17 points in the first half, although Simpson trimmed its deficit to 39-31 by the break.
With sophomore Drew Raher striking three times from the three-point arc, and sophomore Ignas Pavilonis knocking down a fourth long ball, Whitman twice extended its lead to 11 points over the first six minutes of the second half.
But Simpson rallied when injuries sidelined Missionaries Josh Duckworth (ankle sprain) and Justin Artis (chin laceration) for parts of the second half.
After a missed free throw cost Whitman a chance at victory in the final seconds of regulation, Duckworth and Artis played key roles in the five-minute overtime session.
Duckworth, a freshman, returned to the court on his bad ankle to finish with 21 points, six rebounds and six assists. Four of his points came in the first two minutes of OT.
Artis, a senior, hit his only three of the night with 32 seconds left to clinch the victory, extending the Missionary lead from one to four points.
"It's really something when a young team loses a lead, faces injury and foul trouble, and perseveres to find a way to overcome it," Bridgeland said.
Whitman also did a number defensively on Zach Barragan, Simpson's leading scorer, holding him to just five points on four shot attempts. Barragan scored a career-high 27 points Monday night in leading the Storm to a 68-58 romp over Linfield, one of Whitman's Northwest Conference rivals.
Simpson, an NCAA Division III member of the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, saw its season record fall to 4-7.
Duckworth tallied his game-high 21 points by making seven of 10 field goal attemps and six of seven free throws. Junior Brandon Shaw was good for 15 points, six assists and three steels.
Sophomore Peter Clark contributed 12 points to the Whitman cause, connecting three times from the 3-point stripe. He had the hot hand early in the game, drilling two treys and a two-point jumper as the Missionaries jumped in front 10-0 in the first few minutes of play.
Freshman center Ryan Gilkey scored inside with four minutes left in the first half to give Whitman its biggest lead of the night at 37-21. Gilkey finished with eight points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots. The Missionaries outrebounded Simpson 34-28 for the game.
Raher chipped in with nine points while Pavilonis added seven.
Whitman's offense clicked all night long. After shooting 54.5 percent from the floor in the first half and 57.1 percent in the second, the Missionaries made two of three field goal attempts in overtime. For the game, Whitman 56.4 percent.
The Missionary shooting numbers included a 10-of-18 showing from the three-point line.
Whitman seeks a fifth straight win when it visits California's University of Redlands for a 5 p.m. game on Thursday.
The Missionaries, who are 6-4 overall this season, resume Northwest Conference play when they host Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 7-8.
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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; email@example.com