Whitworth Hosts Simpson on Saturday

Whitworth Hosts Simpson on Saturday

SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitworth will play its final game before the Christmas holiday on Saturday night when the 11th-ranked Pirates host Simpson College in the Fieldhouse at 7:00 pm.  Whitworth (8-1) has won eight in a row and is coming off of three victories in a swing through Southern California earlier this week.  The game will be the second of four Pirate games broadcast on local television by SWX.

The game is free to the public.

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The Pirates:   Following last Saturday's 95-66 win at Occidental College, Whitworth played a pair of games at Chapman University in Orange, California on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Pirates outscored the host Panthers 9-2 over the final five minutes of the game to rally for a 67-62 win over Chapman on Tuesday night.  Whitworth won despite the fact that the Panthers shot better than 56% from the field (23-41) and three-point range (5-9).  But the Pirates grabbed 12 offensive rebounds and used 15 Chapman turnovers to take 17 more shots than the Panthers.  Taylor Farnsworth scored a career-high 14 points to lead Whitworth, making 7-9 shots from the floor.  Wade Gebbers added 13 points and Colton McCargar scored 12 off of the bench, including key three-pointers at the end of each half.  Both Farnsworth and McCargar led the Bucs with six rebounds each.  The win was the Pirates' fifth in a row over Chapman.

Whitworth turned in another strong finish with Wednesday night's 70-57 win over Redlands.  The Pirates outscored the Bulldogs 20-2 over the final eight minutes to turn a 55-50 deficit into a 13-point win that ended Redlands' six-game winning streak.  Redlands was held to its lowest point total of the season and well below its average of more than 90 points per game.  Dustin McConnell hit 5-8 from three-point range to lead the Pirates with 19 points and he also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.  George Valle scored 11 points while Wade Gebbers had five assists and five steals to go along with his nine points.  Whitworth earned its third straight win over Redlands.

The Opponents: Simpson College is 4-5 heading into a game tonight at Whitman College in Walla Walla.  The Storm earned a 61-52 win over the American Institute of Business (AIB) in their last game on December 15th.  Whitworth and Simpson have met one time previously as Division III members.  The Pirates defeated the Storm 77-56 on December 28, 2008 in Burlingame, California.

The Storm will present a balanced attack on Saturday.  Austin Hennings, a 6-7 sophomore forward, leads the team in both scoring (12.6 ppg) and rebounding (6.7 rpg).  Senior point guard Elijah Knox contributes 12.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.  Sophomore shooting guard Charles Swain adds 11.8 points per game and makes 34.3% of his three-point tries.  As a team the Storm makes 45% of their shots from the field and 34.5% from beyond the arc.

National Raking: Whitworth moved up two more places in this week's D3hoops.com top-25 poll.  The Pirates came in at 11th, a season-high, this week after they were 13th in last week's poll. Going back to the 2009-10 season, Whitworth has been ranked in the D3hoops.com top-25 for 39 consecutive polls.

NWC Leaders:  Whitworth leadsthe Northwest Conference, or ranks second, this season in several team statistical categories.  To the Pirates' credit, those statistical rankings come on both ends of the floor.  They include:
1st - Defensive Points Per Game:  60.0
1st - Opponent FG%: 39.0
1st - Opponent 3-pt%: 28.2
1st - Team FG%: 47.7
1st – Fewest Fouls Per Game: 13.6
2nd - Fewest Turnovers per game: 11.9
2nd – Team FT%: 72.7

NWC Favorites: Whitworth was picked first in the Northwest Conference preseason coaches poll.  The Pirates picked up seven of nine first place votes and 70 total points.  Whitman was second in the poll with two first place votes and 54 points.

Four SWX Broadcasts: Local cable station SWX will carry four Whitworth men's basketball games live this season: Dec. 8 vs. Puget Sound; Dec. 22 vs. Simpson; Jan. 18 vs. Willamette; and Feb. 1 vs. Lewis & Clark. 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. Click here for a complete list of station numbers throughout the Eastern Washington/North Idaho region.

Back on KSBN: Local radio station KSBN (1230am) will carry all 18 remaining regular season Pirate games, and any post-season contests.  The relationship between Pirate athletics and KSBN goes back to 1994, a span of almost 20 years.  Bob Castle, whose voice has become synonymous with Whitworth athletics on the radio, is back as the voice of the Pirates in 2012-13. Bob has called Whitworth games for the past 12 seasons, as well as in 1997-98. Bob has 20 years in radio and his experience as a sports broadcaster includes stints as the voice of Spokane Indians Baseball, Gonzaga University baseball and Washington State women's basketball.

Team Captains: The members of the Whitworth basketball team and coaching staff have voted Wade Gebbers, Mack Larkin and Zach Payne as team captains for the 2012-13 season.  It is the second season in a row that Gebbers has been voted as a team captain.

Twenty for Seven: Whitworth extended its school record for consecutive seasons with at least 20 victories to seven in a row in 2011-12.  Prior to this current streak, the most 20-win seasons in a row the Pirates had ever had was two (on three different occasions).

Rolling On: The Bucs have won 87 of their last 96 games, an amazing run of success matched by few other college teams at any level.  Within the Northwest Conference, Whitworth has won 54 of its last 56 – 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 117-13 (.900) in the Whitworth Fieldhouse. Since the 2005-06 season, the Bucs are 84-6 (.933) at home. During the decade of the 1990s the Pirates won more than 80% of their games played at home.

The Pirates have had two home-court winning streaks of more than 40 games since 1990.  A 41-game home court winning streak from early 2009 until December of 2011 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 in the last two seasons.  Since the start of the 11-12 season, Whitworth is 18-2 away from home, 11-0 in true road games.

Wade Leading the Way: Point guard Wade Gebbers is the heart that drives the Pirate engine on the basketball floor.  He has battled through persistent injuries this season to average 9.6 points, 3.3 assists, and 3.0 rebounds per game.

Gebbers earned Second Team All-Northwest Conference last season after averaging 12.8 points per game.  He led the team in assists per game (3.5), which ranked third in the NWC.  Gebbers led the league in three-pointers made per game (2.8) and ranked third in the league in three-point percentage (42.1).  He scored a career-high 26 points on January 17th against Whitman.

In 2010-11 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.

The 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). Now Mack Larkin has stepped into that role. Larkin is most often tasked with guarding the opponent's best offensive player. So far this season he has averaged 7.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while making 48% of his shots from the field and 36% from three-point range.

Last season he averaged 7.0 points and 3.8 rebounds with 39 assists and 19 steals, despite missing four games in early January after suffering a mild concussion in practice. 

Driving Mr. Dusty: Dustin McConnell is dangerous from three-point range, making better than 40% of his shots from beyond the arc this season.  But he is even harder on opposing defenses with his hard drives to the basket, often getting the shot to go down while drawing a foul.  So far this season he is averaging 13.0 points, 3.6 assists and 1.8 steals per game.  He had a career-high 20 points in Whitworth's win at Occidental (Dec. 15).

He ended up with a 7.7 scoring average last winter after taking over as a starter eight games into the season.  He made 38% of his attempts from three-point range.

Frosh Phenom: George Valle has already made a huge impact in his first season with the Pirates.  He is second on the team in scoring average (12.7 ppg) and has made 52% of his shots from the field.  He is one of the team's best defenders as well, ranking second on the team in steals (14).  He has already been selected as a Northwest Conference Student-Athlete of the Week in men's basketball (Dec. 4).  His career-high is 23 points in the win at Montana Tech.

Mr. Reliable: Colton McCargar does everything asked of him, whether he is in the starting lineup or the first player off of the bench.  He is averaging 10.0 points and leads the team with 5.0 rebounds per game.  He is making almost 34% of his three-point tries so far this season.  He scored a career-high 18 points in the win over Puget Sound (Dec. 8).

Coming up next Week: Whitworth will break for Christmas then return after the holiday to play Hamline University of St. Paul, Minnesota on December 31st at 2:00 pm.

The Coach: Matt Logie led Whitworth to a 26-4 record in 2011-12, his first season as coach of the Pirates.  He was also selected as the NWC Coach of the Year by his peers after directing the Pirates to a 15-1 conference mark and their sixth straight NWC tournament championship.

Logie 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.