Whitworth Headed to Whitewater, Wis. For NCAA Sectional (full release)

SPOKANE, Wash. – Seventh-ranked Whitworth has qualified for the sectional rounds (Sweet 16) of the NCAA Division III tournament for the third straight season and fourth time overall.  The Pirates will play 6th-ranked Virginia Wesleyan College in the Sectional Semifinal on Friday at 5:30 pm (CST).  Host University of Wisconsin-Whitewater will play Wheaton College (Ill.) in the other Sectional Semifinal on Friday at 7:30 pm (CST).  Friday's winners will meet in the Sectional Final on Saturday at 7:00 pm (CST) for the right to advance to the NCAA Division III Final Four. 

Click here for the NCAA host site set up by Wisconsin-Whitewater.  Click here for an updated NCAA bracket (pdf).

All post-season games can be heard live in the Spokane area on KSBN 1230am and world-wide on the internet on KSBN.net with longtime voice of the Pirates Bob Castle calling every play.  Wisconsin-Whitewater will also provide a free video stream of all three games on its host site.

Whitworth is 26-3 overall after winning the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament last weekend in Belton, Texas.  The Pirates take a 13-game winning streak into the sectional semifinal.

Tournament Info: Whitewater, Wisconsin is about 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee and 100 miles north of Chicago.  Available airports are Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago.  Ticket prices for each day's session are $8 for adults and $4 for students (with a valid college ID), youth and senior citizens.  Whitworth fans wishing to attend the games can call the UW-Whitewater ticket office at (262) 472-2222.

The Pirates: Felix Friedt broke loose for a career-best night to lead Whitworth to a 90-79 win over McMurry in the first round of the NCAA tournament.  The Pirates made 54% (28-52) of their shots from the field and 82% (28-34) of their free throws.  That allowed Whitworth to overcome 21 turnovers and 22 offensive rebounds by the War Hawks.  McMurry took 30 more shots in the game than Whitworth did, but the Pirate defense held the War Hawks to only 38% (31-82) shooting in the game and only 9.5% (2-21) from three-point range.  Friedt hit 9-16 shots from the floor and 16-17 from three-point range for 35 points to surpass his previous career high of 29 set two weeks again in a Senior Night win over Willamette.  Idris Lasisi added 15 points and eight rebounds, while Wade Gebbers scored 11.

Whitworth opened a 21-point lead (46-25) early in the second half against Trinity, then hit an offensive dry spell that allowed the Tigers to rally back to within three points (47-44) late in the game.  But Jack Loofburrow scored eight points during a 10-0 Whitworth run that stretched the Pirates' advantage back to 60-47 before Whitworth ended up winning 64-53.  Idris Lasisi scored 22 points and made 6-11 from three-point range to lead all scorers.  Friedt struggled against a lot of contact on defense, but managed to post 12 points and eight rebounds.  Loofburrow went 3-5 from beyond the arc and finished with 13 points in the game.

NCAA Tournament History: Whitworth is making its sixth consecutive NCAA Division III tournament appearance and seventh overall. The Pirates are 8-6 all-time in the NCAA DIII post-season and have now advanced to four Division III sweet 16's since 2008.
- In 2011 Whitworth defeated Chapman 77-63 in the second round.  The Pirates went to Wooster (OH) and defeated Marietta (OH) 93-77 in the round of 16 to reach their first-ever Elite Eight.  Wooster beat Whitworth 76-66 to reach the Div. III final four for the third time in that school's history.
- In 2010 Whitworth defeated Chapman 77-56 in the second round before the Pirates fell to Eastern Mennonite 74-71 in the round of 16 at Guilford (N.C.).
- In 2009 the Pirates had to win at 3rd-ranked Puget Sound in the NWC tournament final just to make the NCAA field, then defeated Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the first round before losing back at Puget Sound in round two.
- In 2008 Whitworth defeated Occidental (Calif.) in the second round of the tournament before falling to Wheaton (Ill.) in the round of 16 at Hope (Mich.).
- In 2007 the Bucs went to St. Louis, Missouri and defeated DePauw (Ind.) in overtime in the first round before falling by two points to host Washington University in the second round.
- In 2003 the Pirates lost at eventual championship-game participant Gustavus Adolphus in the first round.

Prior to its recent history in the NCAA Division III tournament, Whitworth had a longer post-season history as a member of the NAIA. The Pirates played in the 1996 and 1998 NAIA Division II tournaments, hosted by Northwest Nazarene College in Nampa, Idaho. In 1996 Whitworth advanced to the title game before losing in overtime to Albertson (now College of Idaho) College. In 1998 Whitworth lost on a last-second basket to eventual champion Bethel College (Ind.) in the quarterfinals. Prior to the splitting of the NAIA into divisions in 1992, the Pirates played in the NAIA tournament in Kansas City five times. Whitworth advanced to the quarterfinals in 1952 and then suffered first-round losses in 1954, 1955, 1961 and 1991.

National Ranking: Whitworth moved up to 7th in the most recent (Feb. 27) D3hoops.com top 25 poll.  The Pirates were 10th in the previous two polls. Going back to the 2009-10 season, the Bucs have been ranked in the D3hoops.com top-25 for 34 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.

Northwest Conference Honors: After winning the 2012 NWC title by four games, no one was surprised when Whitworth was well represented on the 2012 All-Northwest Conference basketball team.  Matt Logie was selected by his peers as the NWC Coach of the Year in his first season as Whitworth's head coach.  Felix Friedt and Idris Lasisi were First Team All-NWC selections, Friedt's second season on the team after earning Second Team honors last year.  Wade Gebbers was named Second Team All-NWC and Jack Loofburrow earned honorable mention honors for the second straight season.

NWC Tournament History: There have been 15 conference tournaments since the NWC (then the NCIC) first began a league playoff following the 1993-94 season. Whitworth has competed in 14 of those tournaments, one ahead of Lewis & Clark for the conference's all-time lead. The Pirates are 14-7 all-time in the league playoffs and have won the last nine tournament games in which they have played. The Bucs have appeared in the championship game ten times and have won eight times: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2003, 1996. The league did not hold a tournament in 1999, 2004 and 2005. The only season the Bucs did not qualify is 2000.

NWC Title: Whitworth clinched the 2012 regular season NWC championship with a full week to play in the schedule. The conference championship is the Pirates' third in a row and fifth in the last six years. Whitworth has now won a total of 14 Northwest Conference titles in men's basketball (since rejoining the league in 1982).

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 % - 49.6 (1st NWC)
Team Free Throw % - 80.2 (1st)
Team 3-Pt % - 40.0 (1st)
Points Per Game – 78.3 (1st)
Points Allowed Per game – 65.3 (1st)
3-pointers made per game – 9.6 (1st)
Assists per game – 13.8 (1st)
Turnovers per game – 11.6 (2nd)

Virginia Wesleyan:  Sixth-ranked Virginia Wesleyan College (26-3) is making its eighth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.  The Marlins won the 2006 NCAA Division III championship and were runners up the following season.  VWC won the Old Dominion Athletics Conference regular season with a 14-2 record and rolled through the eight-team ODAC tournament with victories over Washington and Lee (87-63), Hampden-Sydney (67-65) and Randolph (65-61).  The Marlins received a first round bye in this year's NCAA tournament and then defeated St. Mary's (Md.) 70-57 in the second round at home.  VWC is currently riding an eight-game winning streak.

Sophomore guard DJ Woodmore was named MVP of the ODAC this season.  He averages 16.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game while making 45% of his field goals and 87% of his free throws.  Senior forward Donald Vaughn, who was a First Team All-ODAC honoree, adds 13.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.  Second Team selection Chris Astorga, a junior forward, scores 14.9 points and makes 43% of his three-point tries.

Whitworth and Virginia Wesleyan have never played in men's basketball.  The Pirates' only game ever played against an opponent from the ODAC was a 74-71 loss to Eastern Mennonite in the 2009 Sectional Semifinal at Guilford, NC.

The Other Two: If Whitworth is fortunate enough to defeat Virginia Wesleyan in the semifinal, the Pirates would play the winner of the game between Wisconsin-Whitewater and Wheaton in the Sectional Final on Saturday.  Both UWW and Wheaton were at-large selections to the 2012 Division III tournament after each was defeated in the championship game of their respective conference tournaments.

Eighth-ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater is 25-4 after defeating Northwestern (Minn) 83-68 and defending national champion St. Thomas (Minn.) 91-62 in the first two rounds of the 2012 tournament.  The Warhawks were regular season champions of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletics Conference, but were knocked off in the conference tournament final 64-58 by Wisconsin-River Falls.  Whitewater is among the nation's leaders in team field goal percentage (51.5) and scoring margin (13.9).  Senior center Chris Davis, who averages 22.2 points and 8.0 rebounds per game, was named the WIAC MVP.  Junior forward Luke Knoble was a fellow First Team All-WIAC honoree and he averages 10.3 points per contest.  The War Hawks defeated Whitworth earlier this season 76-61 in San Antonio, Texas on December 21st.   UWW is in its fifth NCAA Div. III tournament since 2006.

Wheaton (23-6) comes in ranked 24th in the latest D3hoops.com poll.  The Thunder were runners-up to North Central in the Collegiate Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin and fell to NCC 75-58 in the finals of the conference tournament.  Wheaton won the Wis.-River Falls regional by defeating Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.) 68-60 in the first round, then Edgewood (Wis.) 73-62 in the second round.  The Thunder are in their fifth NCAA Division III tournament since 2005 and the last meeting between Whitworth and Wheaton came in the 2008 Sectional Semifinal at Hope (Mich.) where the Thunder prevailed 76-67.  Senior forward Tim McCrary, who averages 18.0 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, was selected as the CCIW Player of the Year.  Senior guard Aaron Garriott was a Second Team All-SCIAC choice and he averages 11.6 points per game.  Senior forward Spencer Schultze contributes 10.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

Twenty for Seven: Whitworth has extended its school record for consecutive seasons with at least 20 victories to seven in a row.  Prior to this current streak, the most 20-win seasons in a row the Pirates had ever had was two (on three different occasions).

Streaking: Whitworth's 13-game winning streak is tied for the third-longest in Pirate history.  The 1995-96 team won 13 games in a row before losing the NAIA Division II title game, and the 2006-07 squad opened the season 13-0.  The best streak in Whitworth history is 25 in a row set during the 2009-10 season.  Last year the Pirates opened the season with 23 consecutive victories.

Rolling On: It's not exactly a streak, but the Bucs have won 79 of their last 86 games, an amazing run of success matched by few other college teams at any level.  Within the Northwest Conference, Whitworth has won 52 of its last 54 – including the six wins from the last three 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 113-12 (.904) in the Whitworth Fieldhouse. Since the 2005-06 season, the Bucs are 80-5 (.941) 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.

Road Warriors: As good as Whitworth is at home, the Pirates have been even better away from the Whitworth Fieldhouse this season.  The Pirates are 14-1 away from home, 8-0 in true road games.

And the stats demonstrate that Whitworth has been tough-minded away from home.  The team has a better overall shooting percentage away from home (50.7%) than overall (49.6%) and three-point percentage away from home (42.7%) than overall (40.0%).  Whitworth has outscored opponents by 15.1 points per game away from the Fieldhouse, while the scoring margin has been +13.0 overall.

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: A 2012 First Team Capital One Academic All-America® honoree and a finalist for the prestigious Josten's Trophy, Felix Friedt is having a special senior season. He is second on the team in scoring average (16.5 ppg), while making 57.3% of his shots from the field. He is first in the Northwest Conference in rebounding average (8.7).   Friedt devastates opponents by drawing fouls and making free throws.  Not only is he second in the NWC in free throw percentage (82.9%), he has made more free throws (189) than all but one other player in the league has even attempted.  He was named NWC Men's Basketball Student-Athlete of the Week twicethis season – first on December 6th and then on January 10th.  Friedt leads the conference with 13 double-doubles this season.  He has 1,106 career points and became the 22nd player in Whitworth history to surpass the 1,000 career point total during the game at Whitman on February 14th. 

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 12.8 points per game.  He leads the team in assists per game (3.5), which ranks third in the NWC.  Gebbers leads the league in three-pointers made per game (2.8) and ranks third in the league in three-point percentage (42.6).  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 a team-high 17.0 points and adding 4.9 rebounds per game. Lasisi also leads the team in steals (38) and blocked shots (21) and he was selected as a 2012 First Team All-Northwest Conference honoree.  Lasisi scored a season-high 27 points in Whitworth's win at Whitman on Feb. 14 and finished with 25 points in the Bucs' game against nationally-ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater on December 21st.

Instant Ignition: Jack Loofburrow has worked his way back into the regular rotation and has come alive over the last five weeks of the season.  He had been sidelined with an ankle injury for eight weeks from early December until the end of January.   In 21 games this season he has averaged 9.3 points, 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 4.0 rebounds per game and was an All-NWC honorable mention choice for the second year in a row.

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 7.2 points and 3.9 rebounds with 39 assists and 19 steals this season.  Larkin missed four games in early January after suffering a mild concussion in practice. 

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.