Valiant Effort Falls Short in 89-87 Setback

News Release Date:
Monday, December 28

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- A valiant effort by the Whitman College men fell a few points short Monday night in an 89-87 loss to nationally ranked and undefeated University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in a neutral-court battle in Spokane, Wash.

The Warhawks, now 12-0 and ranked No. 3 nationally by D3hoops.com, rallied from a 10-point deficit midway through the second half and then erased a smaller Whitman lead over the final three minutes.

The loss snapped Whitman's five-game winning streak and leaves the Missionaries with a 6-3 non-conference record.

Brandon Shaw
Daniel Davidson

Junior Daniel Davidson and sophomore Brandon Shaw paced Whitman with 18 and 17 points, respectively.

The Missionaries also got 12 points from freshman LuQuam Thompson and 10 points apiece from junior Justin Artis and freshman Peter Clark.

Mike Bendall, a 6-foot-6 senior, led Wisconsin-Whitewater with 26 points and 13 rebounds.

Dennis Mitchell, a 6-foot-9 senior, added 16 points and nine boards, while 6-foot junior D.J. Dantzler chipped in with 17 points.

Whitman's sharpshooters hit eight 3-pointers in a nip-and-tuck first half that featured 10 tie scores and 15 lead changes and finally ended in a 42-42 stalemate.

Senior Jordan Wheeler hit a jumper in the paint to give the Missionaries their largest lead of the opening half at 16-12 with 13 minutes left. Dantzler's two free throws accounted for the largest Warhawk advantage at 24-21 with 8:28 remaining.

Whitman had the upper hand early in the second half. In back-to-back possessions, Davidson knocked down a 3-pointer and then scored off an offensive rebound. Fouled on the putback, he made the free throw for a 54-49 Missionary lead with just under 16 minutes left on the clock.

A few minutes later, Shaw swished a jumper in the paint and then blocked a Warkhawk 3-point attempt at the other end of the floor. That led to Thompson's fastbreak layin and three-point play, pushing Whitman's lead to 60-53. 

Clark's 3-pointer with 11:36 left to play gave the Missionaries a 67-57 cushion, their largest lead of the night. But that's when Wisconsin-Whitewater turned the tables in a big way, scoring 15 unanswered points for a 72-67 lead. 

Peter Clark
Justin Artis

The Warhawks extended their lead to 78-71, but sophomore David Michaels kept Whitman close, scoring four points off a pair of offensive rebounds. A Clark steal and free throw, followed by a Thompson 3-pointer and a Shaw layin put the Missionaries back in front at 82-81 with three minutes left.

A second Clark steal disrupted the next Warhawk possession and led to two Shaw free throws and an 84-81 Whitman lead.

Wisconsin-Whitewater responded with a final game-deciding surge, getting baskets inside from Mitchell and Bendall to retake the lead for good at 85-84 with two minutes left. Both teams misfired on their next shot attempts, but Bendall's steal set the stage for Dupree Fletcher's basket with just 23 seconds remaining.

Shaw made one of two free throws with 15 ticks left, cutting Whitman's deficit to 87-85, but Fletcher converted two freebies in the waning seconds before Shaw scored at the buzzer to complete the scoring.

Whitman, which finished the night with a dozen 3-pointers, was deadly from long range to start the game. Freshman Drew Raher hit twice from beyond the arc in the opening minutes, and four of the first five Missionary baskets were good for three points.

The Warhawks, who made just one of nine 3-point attempts, put their superior height to good use for a 40-29 rebounding advantage. But they may have won the game at the free throw line, where they converted 24 of 28 opportunities.

Whitman was 19 of 29 from the charity stripe for the game, which included a 13-of-21 showing in the second half.

Whitman starts Northwest Conference play this weekend with games at Lewis & Clark on Saturday and Willamette on Sunday. Both games start at 3 p.m.

Wisconsin-Whitewater stays in Spokane on Tuesday to play Whitworth.

Box Score

- 30 - 

CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; holden@whitman.edu