December 10, 2011

Montana Tech Knocks Off #6 Whitworth

SPOKANE, Wash. - Visiting Montana Tech blistered the nets for 60% shooting from the field on the way to an 83-73 win over sixth-ranked Whitworth in a non-conference men's basketball game on Saturday night at the Whitworth Fieldhouse.

The Orediggers (5-4), NAIA Division I members of the Frontier Conference, ended the Pirates' 41-game home-court winning streak - what had been the longest active streak in NCAA Division III.

Montana Tech shot 68% (15-22) in the first half, jumping out to a 10-0 lead and eventually leading by as many as 12 points (22-10) midway through the half. But in spite of the Orediggers' hot half, the Pirates still took a 45-42 lead into halftime thanks to their own three-point shooting. After a slow start (2 of 8), Whitworth finished the half 11-21 (52.4%) from beyond the arc. Wade Gebbers led the way in the first half with five of the threes and 17 of his points. He made one from 35 feet as time expired, giving the Pirates all the momentum and a 45-42 lead as the teams went to the locker rooms.

Whitworth (6-1) would stretch the lead to as many as five points three times in the second half, the final time coming on Gebbers' sixth three-pointer of the game, giving the Bucs a 62-57 advantage with 12:18 to play.

But then Whitworth would go cold again. Montana Tech outscored the Pirates 16-2 over the next six minutes to turn a five point deficit into a 73-64 Oredigger lead with 6:16 to play.

Whitworth tried to make a final comeback, pulling within 74-71 after a steal and lay up by Dustin McConnell with 2:44 to play, but Brian Cummings answered with a three-pointer for Tech the next time up the court to stem the Pirates' momentum. Felix Friedt's two free throws with 1:52 left that pulled Whitworth within 77-73 would be the final Whitworth points of the game as the Bucs missed their last four shots and the Orediggers made 6-8 from the free throw line in the final minute.

Idris Lasisi led Whitworth with 23 points, Gebbers finished with 20 and Friedt scored eleven. Friedt was the Pirates' top rebounder with six and Lasisi had four assists and four steals. Whitworth cooled off severely from three-point range in the second half, making only 3-19 (16%) from beyond the arc. The Pirates took 40 of their 59 shots from three-point range.

Adam Greger scored 23 points to lead Montana Tech. Cummings finished with 16 points and Cole Conway scored 14. AJ Payne had 12 points and five assists. The 'Diggers second half shooting was only slightly worse than their first half shooting and they finished the game by making 60% (27-45) of their shots from the floor, 50% (8-16) from beyond the arc.

Notes: Whitworth's 41-game home-court winning streak dated back to a loss to Puget Sound on January 16, 2009. Whitworth fell four wins short of the school-record 45-game streak from 1995-1998...The Pirates had not lost to a non-conference opponent at home since Dec. 9, 2000 - a 72-67 set-back to Lewis-Clark State - over a span of 11 years... Whitworth has won 72 of its last 76 games at home... Montana Tech came into the game only making 39% of its shots this season... Three of the 'Diggers' four losses coming into the game came against NCAA Div. I or NCAA Div. II opponents.

Coming Up: Whitworth will host Northwestern (Minn.) next Sunday (Dec. 18) at 4:00 p.m. in a non-conference contest.

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