Whitworth Ready to Host UMHB in Sweet 16

SPOKANE, Wash. –For the first time ever, Whitworth will host an NCAA Division III men's basketball tournament round of 16 game.  The 6th-ranked Pirates will take on the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders on Saturday night at 7:00 pm in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.  The game will be heard in the Spokane area on KSBN 1230 am and online at KSBN.net.  

Whitworth comes into the game 26-3 following an 86-67 win over Emory in the tournament's second round.  UMHB is 24-5 after rolling past Concordia (Texas) 117-92 in the second round.  It is the second time in three games that Whitworth will face a rematch from the regular season in the NCAA Division III tournament.

Click here for the entire NCAA Div. III bracket (PDF). Live links to Saturday's game can be found here:

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Click here for the live video stream

Click here for the KSBN radio broadcast

Click here for the Whitworth.FM student broadcast

Game Info: The game will be Saturday, March 16th at 7:00 pm in the Fieldhouse.  Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students, youth and senior adults.  Gates will open at 5:30 pm.  Per NCAA rules, no passes (Whitworth or NWC) will be accepted for admission.

Tournament Info: Sixty-two teams were announced as participants in the 2013 NCAA Division III men's tournament, and following the first two rounds of games, 16 of those teams are still playing this Saturday.  Unlike recent seasons, this year's tournament schedule is spread out over six weeks to accommodate a championship game that will be held on Sunday, April 7th in Atlanta, Georgia as part of the 75th anniversary of the NCAA men's basketball championship.  Therefore the first three rounds will be single-game contests at the home of the host school.  The winner of this Saturday's game between Whitworth and Mary Hardin-Baylor will advance to the Sectional Final and National Semifinal rounds March 22-23 in Salem, Virginia.

The Pirates:   Sixth-ranked Whitworth is making its seventh straight appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament, and eighth overall.  Whitworth has now advanced to the round of 16 for the fifth time in school history and for the fourth year in a row.

Last Saturday Whitworth jumped to a quick lead against Emory University (Atlanta, Ga.) and never looked back during an 86-67 victory over the Eagles.  When Colton McCargar drilled the first of his six three-pointers to give Whitworth a 17-6 lead, the Pirates would lead by double digits the rest of the way.  Whitworth committed 19 turnovers against the Emory pressure defense, but the Pirates were able to beat the pressure for many easy baskets as well.  Whitworth shot 53% (25-47) from the field, 52.6% (10-19) from three-point range.  McCargar posted a career-scoring night for the second consecutive game in the NCAA tournament, finishing with 26 points after making 10-14 from the floor, 6-9 from beyond the arc.  Dustin McConnell finished with 17 points, including a dozen from the free throw line where he went 12-12 and helped seal the win in the final minutes.  Mack Larkin had 12 points and led the team with six rebounds.  Wade Gebbers had 11 points and four assists and George Valle finished with 10 points.

Whitworth defeated the University of Redlands 75-69 on March 2nd in the first round of the NCAA tournament.  It was a rematch of a regular-season game won by the Pirates in December.

The Cru: The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor is located in Belton, Texas and is a member of the American Southwest Conference (ASC).  Founded in 1845 and with an enrollment of over 3,000, UMHB is the oldest continuously-operating college in the state of Texas.

The Crusaders (Cru) are 24-5 coming into Saturday's game.  UMHB won the ASC West Division with a 17-2 record this season, but was upset by Concordia (Austin) 80-76 in the championship game of the ASC tournament.  After receiving an at-large bid and a first-round bye in the Division III tournament, the Cru exacted their revenge with a 117-92 thrashing of the Tornados last Saturday in Belton. 

The Cru present a multi-faceted style on offense and defense, led by senior Thomas Orr and junior Kitrick Bell.  Both were named All-ASC this season.  Orr, a 6-5 wing, averages 14.7 and 5.1 rebounds per contest.  Bell, a 6-4 forward, has averaged a double-double this season at 12.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.  Senior wing Brian Todd was selected as the ASC West Division Defensive Player of the Year and also adds 11.4 points per game.  Junior point guard James Allen is the one who makes the UMHB engine go.  He averages 13.0 points per game and dishes 3.8 assists per contest.  Head coach Ken DeWeese is in his 15th year and has posted a record of 284-124 while leading his squad to six Division III tournament appearances.

The Pirates and Crusaders met on November 23rd in Spokane while UMHB was making a Thanksgiving holiday trip to Eastern Washington and Whitworth earned its first victory of the season with a 70-61 decision over Mary Hardin-Baylor.  The Pirates shot 54% (14-26) from the field in the second half, including 40% (6-15) from three-point range.  Dustin McConnell led the way with a (then) career-high 18 points, while Colton McCargar came off of the bench for 13 points and six rebounds.  Thomas Orr led UMHB with 17 points and Kitrick Bell posted a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds. 

That game is the only previous meeting between the schools, though Whitworth traveled to Belton, Texas last March for the first and second rounds of the NCAA Division III tournament.  The teams did not play each other in either round, however, before Whitworth won twice to advance to the round of 16.

NCAA Tournament History: Whitworth is making its seventh consecutive NCAA Division III tournament appearance and eighth overall. The Pirates are 10-7 all-time in the NCAA DIII post-season and have advanced to five Division III rounds of 16, and four in a row since 2010.
- Last season the Pirates went to Belton, Texas where they defeated McMurry (Tex.) 90-79 in the first round and then topped Trinity (Texas) 64-53 in the second round.  Whitworth dropped a heart-breaking 74-71 overtime decision to Virginia Wesleyan in the section semifinals.
- 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 Raking: Whitworth is ranked sixth in the final regular season D3hoops.com top-25 poll (Feb. 25).  Going back to the 2009-10 season, Whitworth has been ranked in the D3hoops.com top-25 for 49 consecutive polls.

All-NWC Honors: Northwest Conference coaches recognized four Whitworth players with All-Conference honors this year.  Wade Gebbers and Dustin McConnell were each selected to the All-NWC First Team.  Gebbers was a Second Team honoree last year.  Colton McCargar earned Second Team recognition this season and Taylor Farnsworth received Honorable Mention consideration.

NWC Tournament History: There have been 17 conference tournaments since the NWC (then the NCIC) first began a league playoff following the 1993-94 season. Whitworth has competed in 16 of those tournaments, one ahead of Lewis & Clark for the conference's all-time lead. The Pirates are 17-7 all-time in the league playoffs and have won the last 12 tournament games in which they have played. The Bucs have now appeared in the championship game 11 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 Pirates did not qualify is 2000.

NWC Title: Whitworth clinched its fourth straight undisputed NWC championship in 2013. The conference championship is also the Pirates' sixth in the last seven years. Whitworth has now won a total of 15 Northwest Conference titles in men's basketball (since rejoining the league in 1982).  Only three times in the league's history has a team won/shared four straight conference crowns: Willamette (1987-90, two shared); Willamette (1949-52, two shared) and Whitman (1927-30).  No NWC school has ever won five straight men's basketball championships.

NWC Leaders:  Whitworth leads the 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:
2nd – Points per game: 79.4
1st - Team FG%: 51.2
1st – Team 3pt%: 39.2
1st - Team FT%: 75.3
2nd – Rebound Margin: +2.8
1st – Assists per game: 13.7
2nd -  Turnovers per game: 11.7
1st – Fewest Fouls Per Game: 14.8
2nd - Defensive Points Per Game:  66.6
2nd - Opponent FG%: 42.5

Efficiency is the key:  Whitworth ranks dead last in the Northwest Conference in average number of field goals attempted per game (55.8).  But the Pirates rank second in field goals made per contest (28.6).  Those two numbers lead to Whitworth's NWC-best team field goal percentage of 51.1, which leads the league by almost six percentage points over second place.  In the most recent NCAA statistics, the Pirates rank third in Division III in team field goal percentage.

Total Team Effort: Whitworth currently has a 26-3 record and ranks highly in many NWC team statistical categories.  This all comes despite the fact that the Pirates do not have a player crack the top 10 individually in scoring and rebounding.  Dustin McConnell currently ranks 11th in the NWC in points per game, while Taylor Farnsworth ranks 12th in rebounds per contest.  More telling to the Pirates' success is the fact that Wade Gebbers and McConnell rank second and third, respectively, in the NWC in assists per game.

Back on KSBN: Local radio station KSBN (1230am) will carry all remaining Pirate 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.

Ten  Again and Twenty Thrice: The Dec 31st win over Hamline was the Pirates' tenth victory in a row this season.  It marks the fourth consecutive year that Whitworth has put together a winning streak of at least 10 in a row.  The subsequent streak of 20 wins in a row ranks as the third-longest all-time at Whitworth and marks the third time in the last four years that the Bucs have reached 20 straight.  Last year the Pirates won 13 straight games late in the season.  In 2010-11 the team won its first 23 in a row to ascend to the #1 ranking in Division III basketball.  And in 2009-10 the Bucs put together a school-record 25 game winning streak.  Whitworth has only had five other seasons in its history with winning streaks of at least ten: 2006-07 (13 in a row); 2002-03 (12 in a row); 1995-96 (13 in a row); 1991-92 (10 in a row); 1989-90 (11 in a row).

20-Eight is Great: With the February 2nd win over Pacific, Whitworth extended its school record for consecutive seasons with at least 20 victories to eight 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).

Rolling On: The Pirates have won 105 of their last 115 games, an amazing run of success matched by few other college teams at any level.  Within the Northwest Conference, Whitworth has won 68 of its last 72 – including the eight wins from the last four 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 128-14 (.901) in the Whitworth Fieldhouse. Since the 2005-06 season, the Bucs are 95-7 (.931) 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 just as good away from the Whitworth Fieldhouse in the last four seasons.  Since the start of 2009-10, Whitworth is 49-8 (.860) away from home, 35-3 (.921) 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 11.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, earning First Team All-NWC honors.  He also ranks second in the NWC in assists per contest (3.3) this season.  He scored a career-high 27 points at Whitman on February 5th and had 23 points in the season-opener against now top-ranked St. Thomas.  On Feb. 21 he became the 23rd player in Whitworth history to surpass 1,000-career points and now has 1,064.

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 what was 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. Over the last two years Mack Larkin has stepped into that role. On defense Larkin is most often tasked with guarding the opponent's best offensive player. On offense this season he has averaged 7.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game while making 52.2% of his shots from the field and 37% from three-point range.  He scored a career-high 22 points in the NWC tournament championship game against Whitman.  His had a previous career-high of 17 points in the win over Simpson on December 22nd.

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 46.2% of his shots from beyond the arc this season, which currently ranks second in the NWC.  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.  This season he is averaging a team-best 13.7 points and adding 3.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game, garnering First Team All-NWC honors.  McConnell leads the NWC in free throw percentage (88.0) this season.  He had a career-high 24 points in Whitworth's win over Whitman on January 8th and had 23 points in the win over Willamette (Jan. 18th).

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.

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 12.7 points (second on the team) and adds 4.1 rebounds per game and was selected Second Team All-NWC despite starting only three games this season.  He is making over 45% of his three-point tries so far this season, which is second on the team and third in the NWC.  He surpassed his career-high with 26 points in the NCAA second-round win over Emory and his previous career best was the 21 points in the NCAA first-round victory over Redlands. 

Frosh Phenom: George Valle has already made a huge impact in his first season with the Pirates.  He is third on the team in scoring average (12.2 ppg) and has made 51.4% of his shots from the field.  He has already been selected as a Northwest Conference Student-Athlete of the Week in men's basketball (Dec. 4).  His career-high is 30 points in the win over Linfield on Feb. 15th and he scored 23 points in the win at Montana Tech at the end of November.  He scored the game-winning basket and free throw in the final seconds at George Fox on January 11th.

Block Party: Taylor Farnsworth has grown into his role as the Pirates' starting post player this season and leads the team by a wide margin in blocked shots (22).  His season averages are 9.9 ppg and 5.0 rpg, which leads the team.  He is making 58.7% of his shots from the field, which currently ranks second in the Northwest Conference and he received honorable mention consideration on the 2013 All-NWC Team. He scored a career-high 29 points in the win at Pacific (Jan. 4).

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.