#11 Tommies hold off Missionaries in season opener
News Release Date:
Thursday, November 15
With a raucous crowd of 300 Whitman supporters in attendance hoping for a Whitman upset, the Missionaries tried their best to give it to them. Unfortunately, the 11th-ranked Tommies were outlasted the Missionaries in a 104-81 shootout.
Ben Eisenhardt, Sr.
Whitman took its first blow before the opening tipoff when they lost senior guard LaQuam Thompson (Tacoma, WA) to a knee injury. That didn't appear to affect the Whits in the early-going, as sophomore Matt Mounier (Encino, CA) scored off a beautiful play three seconds into the game. A couple possessions later, junior transfer Ben Eisenhardt (Bainbridge Island, WA) sent the crowd into hysterics with a steal and bucket to make it 7-4.
From there, the two teams traded baskets until it was 26-24 for the visitors, when St. Thomas got buckets from four different players on a 10-0 run that put them in control for good. With the Whits fighting to keep the game close, St. Thomas' Will Deberg nailed two three-pointers to put the Tommies up 48-32 at the half.
In the second, Deberg, who led St. Thomas in points with 21, picked up where he left off, drilling another three, as the visitors opened up a 61-39 lead. That's when Eisenhardt took over. The 6' 10" forward scored 10 of his 22 points in a three minute stretch that brought Whitman to within 66-51. After a short stint on the bench, Eisenhardt came back with two more buckets, while Mounier and senior Ignas Pavilonis (Silute, Lithuania) added threes to bring the Missionaries within 76-66 with just under nine minutes remaining.
Jackson Clough, Fr.
Just when the crowd was getting back in the game, however, St. Thomas dug their heels in and responded with a 6-0 run punctuated by a dunk from Connor Nord. Whitman fought to stay within range, but senior forward Drew Raher (San Fransisco, CA) picked up a questionable technical foul on an inbounds play while simultaneously putting the Tommies in the single bonus. Deberg nailed all four free throws to put St. Thomas up by 20 points again at 93-73. From there, St. Thomas coasted to the finish line for the eventual 104-81 victory.
Despite the loss, Whitman got incredible performances from Eisenhardt, who shot 11-15 from the field for a career-high 22 points to go with 8 rebounds, and freshman Jackson Clough (Seattle, WA), who scored 13 points on 5-8 shooting to go with a team-high 4 assists in his Whitman debut. Mounier had 14 points in his first game as a starter, while fellow-sophomore Clay Callahan (Corvallis, OR) added a three-pointer, two steals, and three assists. Pavilonis and junior stalwart Josh Duckworth (Los Angeles, CA) had 8 points apiece, while seniors Raher and Ryan Gilkey (Woodinville, WA) had 5 and 6 points, respectively. Freshman Tochi Oti (Los Angeles, CA) rounded out the scoring with two points in his first game in a Whitman uniform.
Tomorrow, the Missionaries will travel to Riverside, CA for a Saturday matchup with the Bears from Division I UC Riverside. Look to the Whitman athletics Twitter (@WhitmanSports) for up-to-the-minute scores of that 1PM tip. The next Whitman home game is Sunday, November 25th at 2PM against Mary Hardin Baylor (Texas).