Whitman BB Men Knock Off No. 1 Pirates
News Release Date:
Tuesday, February 15
|Basketball players and fans jump for joy after Whitman beat No.1-ranked Whitworth 82-79
Tuesday night in a raucous and packed Sherwood Center. Photo by Greg Lehman
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Whitman College outscored Whitworth University 17-0 over the final five minutes to beat the Pirates 82-79, handing the nation's top-ranked NCAA Division III team its first loss of the season Tuesday night in Sherwood Center.
Winning a school-record eighth straight game, Whitman improved to 18-6 on the season and 11-4 in the Northwest Conference, taking sole possession of second place with one game remaining in the regular season.
The loss dropped Whitworth to 23-1 on the season and 14-1 in the NWC. The setback also snapped a 34-game NWC winning streak for the Pirates, who failed to score a single point over the final 5:41 of the game.
Whitworth led 79-65 after Felix Friedt made two free throws with 5:41 left to play. After the Pirates missed their next three shots from the floor, Missionary freshman Josh Duckworth nailed a 3-pointer at the 3:34 mark to spark Whitman's game-winning explosion.
After sophomore Drew Raher made a steal and shot down the court for a layin, sophomore Ignas Pavilonis picked off another steal and hit another three to cut the Missionary deficit to 79-73 with 2:43 left on the clock.
Junior Brandon Shaw kept the surge going with a spin move in the paint, twirling the ball into the hoop while being fouled. His free throw made it 79-76.
Following a Whitworth misfire near the hoop, Duckworth struck again on Whitman's next possession, lofting home a game-tying 3-pointer with a minute remaining to send the packed Sherwood Center crowd into an eardrum-busting frenzy.
When Clay Gebbers missed two Whitworth free throws with 35 seconds left, Shaw was fouled on the rebound and made one of two free throws to give Whitman its first lead since the first minute of play.
Mike Taylor, who led all scorers with 30 points, missed a jumper on Whitworth's next trip down the floor. Pavilonis rebounded and fed the ball to Duckworth, who was fouled.
Duckworth swished both pressure-packed free throws to extend Whitman's lead to 82-79 with just 16 seconds left on the clock.
After David Riley missed a 3-pointer on the next Whitworth possession, Whitman rebounded and had the game in hand. A long pass down the court tumbled out of bounds, however, as two Missionaries collided trying to make the reception.
With less than three seconds on the clock, Whitworth got off a final desperation shot from beyond mid-court that failed to draw iron at the buzzer.
Duckworth, who hit four of five 3-pointers, led Whitman with a 24 points and eight rebounds, which were season-high numbers in both areas for the 6-foot-2 guard. Shaw finished with 18 points and Justin Artis, Whitman's lone senior, added 12 points and five rebounds.
Raher gave the Missionaries nine points and seven rebounds. Junior David Michaels chipped in with six points and seven rebounds, helping Whitman outrebound the Pirates 43-30.
Wade Gebbers, who combined with Taylor to drill 10 of 17 3-pointers for Whitworth, added 19 points, six assists and six rebounds. The Pirates also got eight rebounds from Friedt and seven points apiece from Clay Gebbers and Jack Loofburrow.
To start the game, Whitman sophomore Peter Clark canned a 3-pointer to give his side a short-lived lead. Whitworth responded by knocking down five of its first six baskets from beyond the arc, bolting to early leads of 16-5 and 19-12.
The Missionaries stayed close, getting threes from Artis and Shaw and an offensive rebound putback from freshman Ryan Gilkey to forge a 21-21 deadlock midway through first half.
Whitman was still within a point at 35-34 after two Shaw free throws with 5:27 left in the half, but the Pirates used a 17-7 scoring spree to take a 52-42 advantage into intermission. Whitworth drilled 10 3-pointers in the half with Taylor going five of six from downtown.
After Taylor opened the second half with two baskets, one of them a three, Clay Gebbers connected three times from the 3-point line to rocket the Pirates into a 66-45 lead with 16 minutes left in the game.
Whitman still trailed 74-56 after Taylor's jumper with 9:46 on the game clock, but that turned out to be Whitworth's last basket of the game.
While the Pirates were making three of four free throws over the next three minutes, Artis canned a jumper and Michaels dropped in two Missionary free throws to breathe some life back into their teammates.
Duckworth connected on Whitman's next two baskets, one of them a three, to pull the home team within 76-65 with 6:30 remaining. After Riley made made one of two charity tosses, Friedt made his two freebies to give the Pirates what looked like a reasonably safe 79-65 lead.
Whitworth, already assured of the No. 1 seed in next week's NWC four-team playoff format, finishes the regular season at Pacific on Saturday.
Whitman, which has won 16 of its last 18 games, plays Friday at Pacific. A victory in that game will assure Whitman of a first-round home playoff game against Lewis & Clark.
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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.