BB Men Smother Fox, Clinch Playoff Spot
News Release Date:
Friday, February 11
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Winning a sixth straight game for the second time this season, the Whitman College men's basketball team clinched its first Northwest Conference playoff berth since 1995 with a 79-58 victory over George Fox Friday night in Sherwood Center.
Whitman, which has won 14 of its last 16 games, improved to 16-6 on the season and retained a share of second place in the NWC standings at 9-4.
The loss eliminated George Fox (now 5-8 in the NWC and 7-15 overall) from playoff consideration with three games left in the regular season.
Whitman never trailed in the game, and apart from a pair of early tie scores, led from start to finish. Up 39-22 at intermission, the Missionaries allowed the Bruins no closer than 13 point in the second half and took their largest lead of the night at 68-44 with just under six minutes left to play.
Freshman Josh Duckworth led a balanced Whitman attack with 16 points. Junior David Michaels just missed a double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds.
Sophomore Ignas Pavilonis hit four of Whitman's nine 3-point baskets in scoring 12 points. Freshman Ryan Gilkey also flirted with a double-double, notching eight points and nine rebounds.
Stephen Wiseley paced George Fox with 16 points and four assists. Rich Smith added 11 points and nine rebounds while Mike Taylor added eight points and 12 boards.
Whitman and Lewis & Clark head to play Saturday tied for second place in the NWC. Undefeated Whitworth has already clinched the regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
Pacific Lutheran, which plays at Lewis & Clark Saturday night, sits in fourth place in the conference standings, one game back of Whitman and Lewis & Clark.
Whitman stays at home Saturday to host Willamette, which saw its record fall to 6-16 and 3-10 with a loss tonight at Whitworth.
The Missionaries, their sights set on finishing second and securing a first-round home playoff game, finish the regular season with two games next week, starting on Tuesday when Whitworth brings its No. 1 national ranking to town.
Whitman, ranked No. 7 in the latest West Region rankings, plays its regular season finale next Friday at Pacific, which has dropped into last palce in the conference standings.
Tonight's victory gave Whitman its first season sweep of George Fox since the 2002-03 season. Last month in Newberg, Ore., the Missionaries withstood a determined George Fox effort to win 87-77 in overtime.
Whitman wasted little time taking control of the rematch, shooting 57.7 percent from the floor in building its big first-half lead.
With the game tied at 10-10, Pavilonis buried the first of his 3-pointers and junior Brandon Shaw picked off a steal, racing to the other end for a layin.
Shaw added two free throws, Duckworth knocked down a 3-pointer, and Michaels and Gilkey scored inside to keep the surge going. After Pavilonis struck twice more from the 3-point line, Duckworth popped an outside jumper to cap a 22-7 that had Whitman firmly in control with a 32-17 cushion.
George Fox shot just 24.1 percent from the floor in the first half and finished at 29.7 percent for the game. Whitman won the rebounding battle 48-39 with seven players grabbing four or more boards.
Senior Justin Artis chipped in with seven points, six rebounds and three assists. Shaw added eight points, four assists and two steals.
Whitman's Saturday game against Willamette starts at 8 p.m. in Sherwood Center.
George Fox travels to Spokane on Saturday for at 8 p.m. game at Whitworth.
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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; firstname.lastname@example.org