Whitman Men Cruise Past UC Santa Cruz

News Release Date:
Thursday, November 29

Box Score

Walla Walla-WA – Capitalizing on a strong inside game while employing a suffocating defense, the Whitman Men’s Basketball team dominated UC Santa Cruz tonight at the Sherwood Athletic Center,  87 to 65, running its winning streak to four games and improving its pre-conference record to 4 and 2.

Ben Eisenhardt, Jr.

6-10 Missionary forward, Ben Eisenhardt (Jr., Bainbridge Island, WA), had his way inside against the smaller Banana Slugs, scoring on a variety of post moves and follow-ups, and incurring fouls as he sank 8 of 12 from the charity strip along with this 7 field goals to garner a game-high 23 points. Eisenhardt also contributed on the defensive end, drawing several charges and inducing a traveling violation.

Junior point-guard, Josh Duckworth (Los Angeles, CA), had a break-out game as he tallied a season-high 20 points. The 6-2 Duckworth  consistently penetrated the Santa Cruz defense, tossing in short jumpers or driving to the hoop. Like Eisenhardt, his aggressiveness paid off with visits to the charity stripe where he converted 6 of 8 attempts. Tochi Oti (Los Angeles, CA) also found double figures as the freshman guard hit two three-pointers in scoring a season-best 10 points. Ryan Gilkey (Jr., Woodenville, WA) was the other Missionary to hit double figures with 12 as he relentlessly pounded the offensive board, garnering most of his points on follow-ups.

Whitman controlled the first half, sprinting out to a 20 to 4 lead with less than eight minutes played. A string of 3-pointers by the Banana Slugs cut the lead to 23 – 15 with 9:07 remaining in the half, but the Missionaries stemmed the tied, exchanging hoops with Santa Cruz the rest of the half, and entered the break with a comfortable  eight-point margin 37 – 29.

Josh Duckworth, Jr.

In the second half, Whitman continued to control the tempo and built a 12-point lead before the Banana Slugs made their only true threat of the game, again, going on a three-point binge to close the gap 42 – 39 on a corner jumper by Matthew Ponce. Missionary coach Eric Bridgeland called a timeout, Whitman retook control of the game and outscored Santa Cruz over the next ten minutes 35 to 12 to garner a commanding 25 point lead with just over five minutes remaining.

Once again, the Whitman defense forced the opponent into an abundance of turnovers. Santa Cruz coughed it up 26 times compared to Whitman’s commendable 10. Although the Slugs shot nearly 50 % from the three-point land, they were repeatedly denied inside, shooting only 39 % from the field. The Whitties converted 46 % of their shots.

Santa Cruz was led in scoring by junior guard, Trent Reeves, who poured in 21. No other Slug reached double figures.

The Missionaries have the weekend off before hosting the University of Puget Sound Friday, December 7, 8 pm at George Ball Court, in their Northwest Conference opener.