Down Early, Whit BB Men Storm By Linfield
News Release Date:
Saturday, January 29
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Winning for the 11th time in its last 13 games, the Whitman College men's basketball team shook off a 14-point deficit late in the first half and stormed past Linfield for an 86-71 Northwest Conference victory Saturday night in Sherwood Center.
Whitman, now 13-6 on season and 6-4 in the NWC, finishes the weekend in fourth place but just a game out of second.
In snapping a seven-game losing steak to Linfield, Whitman dropped the Wildcats to 8-11 this season and 4-6 in conference.
Juniors David Michaels and Brandon Shaw led a balanced Whitman offense with 16 and 15 points, respectively.
Sophomore Peter Clark was next with 12 points followed by senior Justin Artis and sophomore Ignas Pavilonis with 11 points apiece. Freshman Josh Duckworth added to the scoring parade with 10 points.
K.C. Wiser paced Linfield with 29 points. Zach Anderson worked for his second double-double of the season, combining 16 points with 10 rebounds. Sergio Rosario added eight points for the Wildcats.
After recovering from its slow start and trailing by five points at halftime, Whitman pulled even five minutes into the second half when Shaw drove down the lane to knot the score at 50-50.
The Missionaries inched in front 56-55 on two Duckworth free throws with 12 minutes left. Wiser then swapped a pair of 3-point baskets with one each from Pavilonis and Clark. That exchange left Whitman on top 62-61 at the midway point in the half.
Two free throws by freshman Ryan Gilkey and one by Duckworth lengthened the Whitman lead to four points with 7:42 remaining, and the Missionaries stayed in front the rest of the way.
With Whitman leading 73-70, back-to-back treys by Pavilonis and Clark gave the Missionaries a nine-point cushion with four minutes left. The Wildcats managed just one more point in the final minutes.
Whitman fashioned its comeback in part on the strength of its team rebounding. The Missionaries scrambled after 20 offensive rebounds and finished with a 40-34 edge on the backboards. Pavilonis had seven and Gilkey five to lead the way.
Whitman also was deadly at the free throw line, converting 29 of 34 chances, and applied enough defensive pressure to cause 17 Wildcat turnovers.
Linfield had the run of the floor to start the game, racing to early leads of 7-1, 18-10 and 26-12. They led by 14 points on two more occasions, the last time at 37-23 with five minutes left in the half.
Whitman came charging back on an 11-0 roll that included five points from Artis, including a 3-point strike that cut Whitman's deficit to 37-30. Artis followed with an offensive rebound bucket and then made a steal that sent Pavilonis on his way to a crowd-pleasing breakaway dunk that pulled the Missionaries to within three points with 90 seconds left in the half.
Linfield responded by scoring four of the last six points to lead 41-36 at the break.
With 13 victories in the bank and six games left on its regular season schedule, Whitman has already matched the school's highest single-season win total in more than a decade. The 1998-99 Missionaries finished that season with a 13-12 record.
The last time Whitman won more than 13 games in a season was in 1988-89. That year's team finished with an 18-10 record.
In scoring his 15 points against Linfield, Shaw increased his career scoring total to 1,049 points, moving past Mark Jepson (1978-82) into 18th place on Whitman's all-time scoring list.
Whitman heads to Tacoma next weekend to play NWC games at Pacific Lutheran at 8 p.m. Friday and Puget Sound at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Linfield hosts Lewis & Clark at 8 p.m. Tuesday and Willamette at 8 p.m. Friday.
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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; firstname.lastname@example.org