MBB Seeks Successful Start in Sherwood

News Release Date:
Wednesday, November 30, 2011

 WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- The Whitman College men's basketball team looks to get its Northwest Conference season off to a successful start this weekend when it hosts George Fox and Lewis & Clark in Sherwood Center.

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Both games start at 8 p.m. on George Ball Court.

Whitman is 3-1 in early non-conference games and heads to the weekend on a three-game winning streak. The lone Missionary loss came in overtime at the hands of Washington University (St. Louis), a traditionally strong NCAA Division III squad.

George Fox, which has lost three of its first four games, is Whitman's Friday night opponent.

Brandon Shaw

Lewis & Clark, 3-2 after falling to the University of Portland earlier this week, plays Whitworth Friday night in Spokane before coming to Walla Walla on Saturday.

After stubbing its toe in its season opener, Whitman has rolled to victories over three NCAA DIII West Region teams from California.

Four Missionaries scored in double digits in the win over U.C.-Santa Cruz, senior David Michaels blitzed Chapman for a career-high 31 points, and junior Peter Clark drilled a career-high seven 3-pointers in the triumph over Cal Lutheran.

Whitman was one of the hottest teams in the country toward the end of last season, winning 16 of 18 games at one point to finish the NWC regular season in a second-place tie with Lewis & Clark.

The Missionaries beat the Pioneers in the first round of the post-season playoffs but then lost to Whitworth, falling one win short of the NCAA DIII national championship tournament. In finishing with a 19-8 record, the Missionaries enjoyed their best season in more than two decades.

Whitman, which returns most of its roster from a year ago, picked up three first-place votes and finished second overall in the 2011-12 NWC preseason coaches poll.

Michaels, a 6-foot-7 forward, has had a big hand in Whitman's strong start this month. He is averaging 17.2 points (third in the NWC), shooting 56.5 percent from the floor and averaging 5.5 rebounds. 

Senior Brandon Shaw is hitting 65.5 of his shots from the floor while averaging 12.2 points and 3.8 rebounds. In scoring 49 points in his first four games, the 6-foot-2 guard boosted his career scoring total to 1,206. He needs 28 points to break into the Top 10 on Whitman's career scoring list.

Sophomore guard Josh Duckworth is averaging 10.7 points and 3.3 rebounds to start the season. Clark adds 7.5 points per game while sophomore LuQuam Thompson is contributing 7.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.0 steals.

The early rotation also includes junior Drew Raher (5.0 ppg, ) and sophomore Ryan Gilkey (4.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg).

Senior D.J. Wright is second on the team in rebounding, averaging 4.5 per game, while sophomore Jordan Dickson (6-14 3pt) gives Whitman another long-distance threat.

George Fox Bruins

Counting two wins last year, Whitman has won its last three meetings with George Fox.

Shaw scored 26 points, matching his career-high, to spark Whitman's overtime victory against the Bruins last January in Newberg, Ore. The Missionaries then rolled to a 21-point triumph on its home floor in February rematch.

Three players are scoring in double figures for the Bruins to start this season.

Freshman guard A.J. Grant has connected on 10 of 25 3-point attempts while averaging 13.4 points and 4.0 rebounds.

Two wings, senior Mike Taylor and sophomore Sean Atkins, are averaging 11.2 and 10.2 points, respectively.

Other George Fox contributors include junior Anthony Sanchez (8.8 ppg), senior Cam Rier (4.2 rpg), and senior Corey Clark (3.8 apg).

Peter Clark

Lewis & Clark Pioneers

Early last season in Portland, Whitman worked its way to a two-point halftime lead but eventually fell victim to a Lewis & Clark 3-point shooting barrage. The Pioneers combined to make 16 3-pointers in that game.

Whitman got even in the rematch in Walla Walla with Gilkey, Duckworth, Shaw and Michaels combining for 52 points and 27 rebounds.

The Missionaries then won the rubber match in late February, bouncing back from a 10-point halftime deficit to beat the Pioneers 79-76 in the first round of the conference playoffs.

PJ Taylor, a 5-foot-10 senior point guard, is 17 of 45 from the 3-point line to start this season while averaging a team-high 14.6 points.

Ross Erickson, a 6-foot-6 junior transfer from the University of Hartford (NCAA DI), is shooting 51.1 percent from the floor and averaging 14.0 points and 7.0 rebounds.

James Hollins, a 6-foot-3 junior guard, adds 13.4 points and 8.0 rebounds. Other key Pioneers include senior guard Marcus Wells (7.6 ppg) and 6-foot-8 freshman Caron Rayford (6.8 ppg).

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