Men's Basketball Opens Conference Play at Home Friday and Saturday against UPS and PLU

News Release Date:
Thursday, December 6, 2012

Walla Walla, Wash. – The Whitman Men’s Basketball team cracks open the 2012 – 13 conference season this Friday and Saturday as they host the University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University, respectively, at the Sherwood Athletic Center. After finishing the last two seasons tied for second in the Northwest Conference standings, the Missionaries are once again, a favorite to compete for the conference title.

Matt Mounier, So

Whitman will take the court Friday against the Loggers with a 4 and 2 pre-conference record, as the Missionaries rattled off consecutive wins against Pacifica and Bethesda on the road and then Mary Hardin Baylor and UC Santa Cruz at home, after dropping their first two contests against formidable opponents – 11th ranked St. Thomas at home and Division 1 UC Riverside on the road.

Although returning starter LuQuam Thompson (Jr, Tacoma, WA) was lost just before the season opener with a knee injury, the Missionaries have responded with gusto as previously untested players have stepped up and are filling a major role in the club’s early season success. Sophomore forward Matt Mounier (Encino, CA)has provided steady offense from beyond the arc, as has senior forward Ignas Pavilonis (Silute, Lithuania).

Mounier is second in team scoring, averaging 12.7 per game,and Pavilonis is third at 9.8. Freshmen Jackson Clough (Seattle, WA) and Dominic Lippi (Alameda, CA), and sophomore Clay Callahan (Corvalis, OR)are also seeing significant minutes.

Ignas Pavilonis, Sr

In Thompson’s absence, 6 – 10 forward Ben Eisenhardt has taken on the bulk of the scoring responsibility, averaging over 18 points per game, second best in the NWC, while also grabbing 7.5 rebounds, which puts him, also, number two in conference  The junior from Bainbridge Island, WA also tops the team in minutes played at 24 per game.

Puget Sound finished last season with a 20 – 5 mark overall and tied with Whitman for second place in conference at 11 – 5, sweeping the season series, beating the Whitties 68 to 63 in Tacoma and edging the Missionaries 64 – 62 at Sherwood. The Loggers are under .500 in the early going, posting a 2 and 3 mark as they enter Friday’s contest. UPS is led in scoring by senior forward Riggs Yarbro who averages 12.4 per game.

PLU enters weekend play at 2 and 5. The Lutes will visit Whitworth Friday night before they tangle with Whitman on Saturday. Seniors Cameron Schilling (wing) and Andrew Earnest (guard) are both averaging 11 points to lead the way for the Lutes. Head-to-head last season, the Missionaries edged PLU in Tacoma 58 to 57 before downing the Lutes 73 to 68 in Walla Walla, to take the season series 2 - 0.

Ben Eisenhardt, Jr

Tip-off times for this weekend: UPS on Friday 8 pm; PLU on Saturday 6 pm.

Saturday’s game will mark the last contest before Fall Semester Finals and the Winter Break for the Whitman student athletes. The Whitties won’t play again until December 18th when they host Walla Walla University in a non-conference matchup.