Whitworth Can Clinch NWC Title This Weekend

SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth University men's basketball team has a chance to wrap up its third consecutive Northwest Conference championship this weekend with a pair of victories on the road at Linfield (Friday) and Pacific (Saturday).  The Pirates carry a three-game lead into the final four contests on the schedule and two more victories will clinch the title.

Both games can be heard live in the Spokane area on KSBN 1230am and world-wide on the internet on KSBN.net.

Whitworth is 18-3 overall record, 11-1 in the NWC, and ranked 9th in the latest D3hoops.com poll.  The Pirates topped Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran at home last weekend after both teams came into the weekend tied for second place in the conference standings.

The Pirates: Whitworth put together one of its most complete performances of the season in last Friday's 78-59 win over Puget Sound.  The Pirates shot 55% (31-56) from the field and outrebounded the best rebounding team in the NWC 30-28.  Five different Whitworth players hit double figures, led by Felix Friedt who finished with 16 points and five rebounds.  Wade Gebbers added 14 points, Dustin McConnell totaled 13 points and Jack Loofburrow came off of the bench for 11 points.  Idris Lasisi finished with 10 points, five rebounds and three assists.  Whitworth swept the season series against Puget Sound and has now won the last six meetings between the teams.

Whitworth was even better offensively the following night but still had to survive a late go-ahead field goal attempt by visiting Pacific Lutheran before holding on for an 82-80 victory.  The Pirates made 58% (14-24) of their three-point tries and 58% (28-48) of their shots overall.  But PLU grabbed 13 offensive rebounds and got to the free throw line ten times more than the Pirates did.  Wade Gebbers made 7-11 from three-point range, including a four-point play, for 22 points.  Jack Loofburrow was nearly as good, sinking 5-6 from three point range and scoring a season-high 21 points.  Felix Friedt posted his tenth double-double of the season with 17 points and ten rebounds and he also led the team with five assists.  Idris Lasisi tallied 13 points and four assists.  Whitworth has won the last 14 meetings with the Lutes.

National Raking: Whitworth is ranked 9th in this week's D3hoops.com top 25 poll.  The Pirates were ranked 10th in the previous poll. Going back to the 2009-10 season, the Bucs have been ranked in the D3hoops.com top-25 for 31 consecutive polls. Last winter Whitworth reached #1 in the D3hoops.com poll twice, becoming the first school west of St. Paul, Minnesota to ever ascend to the top of the D3hoops.com national rankings.

Team Captains: The members of the Whitworth basketball team and coaching staff have voted Felix Friedt, Wade Gebbers and Michael Taylor as team captains for the 2011-12 season.

Stat Leaders: Whitworth ranks first or second as a team in several key NWC statistical categories:
Team Field Goal % - 49.0 (1st NWC / 17th NCAA DIII)
Team Free Throw % - 80.1 (1st NWC / 2nd NCAA DIII)
Team 3-Pt % - 39.2 (1st NWC / 18th NCAA DIII)
Points Per Game – 76.5 (2nd NWC)
3-pointers made per game – 9.3 (1st / 13th NCAA DIII)
Turnovers per game – 11.7 (2nd NWC / 23rd NCAA DIII)
Assists per game – 13.2 (2nd NWC)

Date

Time

Game

Live Coverage

Feb. 10

8:00 p.m.

At Linfield

Audio

Feb. 11

8:00 p.m.

At Pacific (Ore.)

Audio / Live Stats

The Opponents: Linfield College is 4-17 overall and 2-10 in the NWC heading into Friday night.  The Wildcats have gotten all four of their wins at home, however, and are 4-4 at Ted Wilson Gym this season.  Last Friday Linfield lost 83-78 at Willamette, then fell 80-70 at home to Lewis & Clark on Saturday.  The Wildcats are a dangerous three-point shooting team, ranking third in the NWC in 3-point percentage (37.7).  Linfield also ranks second in the league in blocks per game (3.0).  Junior forward Zach Anderson has been the league's leading scorer all season, averaging 21.7 points per contest.  He adds 7.1 rebounds per game and makes nearly 44% of his three-point attempts.  Freshman center Andrew Batiuk is having a very strong first year, averaging 14.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.  On January 14th Whitworth earned a hard-fought 65-61 win over the Wildcats at home after trailing by seven points at halftime.  Idris Lasisi scored 23 points and Felix Friedt finished with 10 points and 15 rebounds.

Pacific University heads into a Friday night match up with Whitman with an overall record of 9-12 and a conference mark of 3-9.  The Boxers split a pair of contests last weekend, falling 79-66 at George Fox on Friday before ending an eight-game losing streak with a 69-64 win at home over Willamette on Saturday.  Pacific is 6-4 at home in the Stoller Center this season.  The Boxers rank third in the NWC in team field goal percentage (45.0) and fourth in rebound margin (+3.1).  Junior guard Colin Wester is the team's leading scorer (15.6 ppg, 2.1 steals per game) and he recently returned after missing three games with an ankle injury.  Junior forward Charles Mosely adds 11.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.  Whitworth defeated Pacific 65-55 on January 13th in the Fieldhouse after Felix Friedt posted 18 points and 10 rebounds and Wade Gebbers added 16 points.

Rolling On: It's not exactly a streak, but the Bucs have won 71 of their last 78 games, an amazing run of success matched by few other college teams at any level.  Within the Northwest Conference, Whitworth has won 46 of its last 48 – including the four wins from the last two NWC tournaments.

Home-Sweet-Home: Whitworth has been stellar in the Fieldhouse throughout the 1990's and 2000's. Since the 2001-02 season the Pirates are 110-12 (.902) in the Whitworth Fieldhouse. Since the 2005-06 season, the Bucs are 77-5 (.939) at home. During the decade of the 1990s the Pirates won more than 80% of their games played at home.

The 41-game home court winning streak from 2009 until this December was the second-longest in Pirate history. The school record for consecutive home victories is 43, beginning during the 1994-95 season and ending during the 1997-98 season.

Learning (and winning) Against Legends: Whitworth's Matt Logie is in his first season as a head coach. Logie might have set a new standard for trial by fire as three of the first four coaches he went up against have combined for 69 years of head coaching experience and more than 1,170 victories. But Logie led the Pirates to victory against Chapman's Mike Bokosky (20 years), Cal Lutheran's Rich Rider (18 years) and Washington University's Mark Edwards (31 years).

Herr Friedt: Since his sophomore year Felix Friedt has supplied the strong, inside presence that the Pirates need to balance their outside shooting. So far this season he is leading the team in scoring average (16.8 ppg – 3rd in the NWC), while making 60.0% of his shots from the field (3rd in the NWC). He currently leads the Northwest Conference in rebounding average (8.9).   Friedt devastates opponents by drawing fouls and making free throws.  Not only is he third in the NWC in free throw percentage (81.5%), he has made more free throws (128) than all but one other player in the league has even attempted.  He been named NWC Men's Basketball Student-Athlete of the Week twice – first on December 6th and then on January 10th.  Friedt leads the conference with ten double-doubles this season.  He has 979 career points and will likely become the 22nd player in Whitworth history to surpass the 1,000 career point total. 

A Second Team All-NWC selection in 2011, Friedt made 59.9% of his shots from the field last year, which was third in the NWC, and 81.8% of his free throws (also 3rd in the conference) while averaging 12.8 points and a team-high 7.1 rebounds per game (4th in the NWC). Friedt scored a career-high 27 points on January 8th vs. Puget Sound, then followed that up with 24 points and 14 points against the Loggers on February 4th.

Also, Friedt became only the second Academic All-American in Whitworth men's basketball history in 2011. He was selected to the Capital One Academic All-America® Men's Basketball College Division Third Team, the first Pirate chosen since Bryan Depew in 2004.

Wade Leading the Way: Point guard Wade Gebbers is one of Whitworth's leading scorers so far this season, averaging 14.7 points per game (9th in the NWC).  He leads the team in assists per game (3.4), which ranks third in the NWC and he also has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.65-1.  Gebbers leads the league in three-pointers made per game (3.2 – 15th in NCAA Div. III) and ranks second in the league in three-point percentage (45.9 – 11th in NCAA Div. III).  He scored a career-high 26 points on January 17th against Whitman.

Last season Gebbers averaged 3.35 assists per game (5th in the NWC) and his assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.07 - 1 was third highest in the league. He scored a season-high 20 points on Feb. 12, 2011 against George Fox, all in the second half, to lead Whitworth back from a three-point halftime deficit to an 89-66 win.

Belgian Burner: Idris Lasisi, a fourth-year transfer from North Idaho College, is making a big impact in his only season with the Pirates, averaging 15.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. His scoring average is seventh in the NWC.  He also leads the team in steals (29).  Lasisi scored a season-high 25 points in Whitworth's game against nationally-ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater on December 21st.

Instant Ignition: Jack Loofburrow is working his way back into the regular rotation and came alive over the weekend with 32 total points off of the bench.  He had been sidelined with a foot injury since early December.   In 11 games he has averaged 8.3points, but he can heat up and score quickly as he demonstrated in the win over Pacific Lutheran (21 points, 5-6 from 3-pt range) and in the second half of the December 3rd win over George Fox (12 points scored after halftime). The 6'-7" senior also adds 4.3 rebounds per game.

Last season he earned honorable mention All-NWC honors, despite coming off of the bench in most games. He averaged 12.1 points per game while making 45.9% (5th in the NWC) of his three-point attempts. He torched PLU for eight three-pointers last February 5th to tie the previous school record for threes in a game and tie his own career high for points (31). Just as impressive was the rebounding with an average of 6.0 (12th in the NWC) rebounds per game and he averaged 0.82 blocks per contest (3rd in the NWC). He scored a career-high 31 points while making 13 of 14 shots from the floor in a win over Colorado College on December 29, 2010.

The Next Glue Guy: Successful Whitworth teams have always had the unsung hero who does all the little things that help the team succeed, but don't always show up in the box scores. In recent years that role has been filled by the likes of Clay Gebbers ('11), Calvin Jurich ('09), and Mike Larkin ('05). This season Mack Larkin has stepped into that role. Larkin is most often tasked with guarding the opponent's best offensive player. And he has added 6.4 points and 4.6 rebounds with 31 assists and 15 steals this season.  Larkin missed four games in early January after suffering a mild concussion in practice.  He returned for the Whitman game.

Four SWX Broadcasts: Friday's game against Puget Sound was the fourth of four games carried live this season by local cable station SWX. SWX stands for Sports & Weather Right Now and is owned by local NBC affiliate KHQ channel 6. SWX can be seen both over-the-air and through some cable services in the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene, Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, and Yakima viewership areas. In the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area, SWX is found on digital channel 6.2, on Comcast channel 115 in Spokane and Time Warner channel 306 in North Idaho.

Coming up Next Week: Following this weekend's games at Linfield and Pacific, Whitworth will travel to Whitman for a game on Tuesday night, then host Willamette in the regular season finale on Saturday (Feb. 18).

The Coach: Matt Logie is in his first season as head men's basketball coach at Whitworth. He previously worked eight seasons as an assistant coach at Lehigh University (Pa.) his alma-mater. He also spent a season as an assistant coach at Kent State. In 2010 Logie was named as the top Patriot League Assistant Coach in men's basketball in a Foxsports.com Coaches Poll and in 2011 he was recognized as one of the top 50 assistants in Mid-to-Low Major college basketball by Hoopscoop on-line magazine. Logie is originally from Mercer Island, Washington where he won a pair of state basketball championships while playing for his grandfather, Ed Pepple, a legend in Washington's high school ranks who won 952 games and four state titles in 49 years of coaching.

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