SPOKANE, Wash. – The regular season work is not quite finished for the Whitworth men's basketball team. The 13th-ranked Pirates will finish the regular season on Friday night at Lewis & Clark College. Friday's game is scheduled for an 8:00 pm tipoff and is going off as the second half of a women's-men's conference doubleheader. The doubleheader will be heard live in Spokane on KSBN 1230am and on the web at KSBN.net.
Check the Whitworth men's basketball schedule for live links for this weekend's games.
Moving in the Polls: After returning to the top-25 two weeks ago, Whitworth has moved up to 13th in Monday's D3hoops.com poll. The Pirates were 16th before dropping out of the top-25 on December 2nd following their second loss of the season. Prior to that week's rating, Whitworth had appeared in the D3hoops.com top-25 for 52 consecutive polls, dating back to the 2009-10 season.
The Pirates: Whitworth (20-4 overall, 14-1 NWC) completed its second three-games-in-five-days stretch of the season 3-0 and clinched an outright Northwest Conference championship for the fifth year in a row.
The Bucs worked hard to pull out a 79-76 win over visiting Whitman on Tuesday night in the Fieldhouse. Whitworth led by nine points (51-42) early in the second half before the Missionaries rallied to take a 62-61 lead with under eight minutes to play. The Pirates scored the next six points and never trailed again. Dustin McConnell had 22 points, while Colton McCargar and Christian Jurlina had 14 points each with Julina leading the Bucs in rebounding (7). Whitworth completed a regular-season sweep of Whitman.
The Pirates never trailed in last Friday's 91-59 win over rebuilding Linfield. Whitworth was shooting well above 60% from the floor for the first 32 minutes of the game, rolling up a lead that eventually reached 40 points. Every man on the roster played in the game and 15 of the 16 players scored a point. Five different Pirates reached double figures in scoring, but no one player accounted for more than 11 points. George Valle, Kenny Love and Dustin McConnell had 11 each, while Robby Douglas and Christian Jurlina had ten apiece. Jurlina led the Bucs in rebounds (8) and assists (4). Douglas came away with a career-high four steals. Whitworth earned its 12th straight win over the Wildcats.
Saturday's win over George Fox has Pirate fans still shaking their heads. Trailing by 11 points with 90 seconds to play, Whitworth outscored the Bruins 13-2 down the stretch to force overtime. The Bucs would eventually prevail 105-101. George Fox did nearly everything it could do to win the game, jumping out to a 25-7 lead just over five minutes in. The Bruins made over 60% of their shots from the field in regulation, including 12-23 from three-point range, but still couldn't prevent Whitworth's comeback. Colton McCargar scored 20 of his game-high 22 points after halftime, leading seven Pirates in double figures. Dustin McConnell had 12 of his 14 points after the break, including the game-tying three-pointer. Taylor Farnsworth came within a rebound of another double-double, posting 12 points and nine boards. With the win, Whitworth ended a two-game losing streak to the Bruins.
NWC Title – History Achieved: Whitworth clinched sole possession of the regular season NWC championship with Tuesday's win over Whitman. The conference championship is the Pirates' fifth in a row and seventh in the last eight years. Whitworth has now won a total of 16 Northwest Conference titles in men's basketball (since rejoining the league in 1982). The Pirates became the first team to win five straight NWC titles in men's basketball. 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).
The Opponents: Lewis & Clark College comes into the weekend 15-8 overall and 8-6 in the NWC. The Pioneers are very much alive for a Northwest Conference tournament berth. L&C fell 81-78 at George Fox on Tuesday. The Pioneers had won three in a row prior to that game, including 72-66 at Pacific last Saturday. While a very perimeter-oriented squad, L&C has rebounded well this year – leading the league in offensive rebounds per game (13.6) and in total rebounds per game (41.7). The team also holds opponents to the lowest three-point percentage in the conference (28.2). Sophomore guard Kurt Parker is the team's leading scorer (12.0 ppg), despite the fact that he hasn't yet started a game this season. Senior guards Conner Freeberg and Quentin Sims combine to average 21.2 points and 10.1 rebounds per contest. Whitworth earned an 81-65 win over L&C on January 25th in Spokane. The Pirates have won the last 13 meetings between the schools.
NWC Tournament History: Whitworth has earned the top seed to the 2014 Northwest Conference Tournament. Heading into next week's (Feb. 27/March 1) event, there have been 17 conference tournaments since the NWC (then the NCIC) first began a league playoff in 1994. 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 11 tournament games in which they have played. The Bucs have appeared in the championship game 11 times and have won nine times: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2003, and 1996. The league did not hold a tournament in 1999, 2004 and 2005. The only season the Bucs did not qualify is 2000.
NWC Tournament Info: The Northwest Conference playoffs consist of a four-team tournament with semifinals on Thursday, Feb. 27 and the championship on Saturday, March 1 at the home of the highest remaining seed. As the top seed in the tournament, Whitworth has clinched the right to host both contests if the Bucs win on Thursday. Whitman hosts the other semifinal next Thursday. Ticket prices for Thursday's semifinal game at the Whitworth Fieldhouse are $10 for adults and $5 for children and senior adults. Students from participating schools get in for free with valid student I.D. All tickets are general admission and will only be available at the door.
Comeback Habit: Part of the identity of this year's Pirate squad is the ability to come from behind. Whitworth has trailed at some point in 15 of the 20 victories this season. In eight of those games the Bucs trailed by at least five points, and four times (vs. UW-Platteville, at Willamette, at Whitman and vs. George Fox) Whitworth has overcome double-digit deficits to win the game.
Statistical Success: While Whitworth has been at the top of the NWC statistics in team free throw percentage all season, a slow start meant that the Pirates are only now rising toward the top in other key categories. Whitworth continues to lead the NWC in FT% at 75.1. The Pirates now also rank second in the NWC in field goal percentage (47.4), rebound margin (+3.2), points allowed per game (68.1), fewest turnovers per game (11.6) and personal fouls committed per game (18.1).
Back on KSBN: Local radio station KSBN (1230am) will carry all remaining Pirate games in 2013-14. The relationship between Pirate athletics and KSBN goes back to 1994, a span of 20 years. Bob Castle, whose voice has become synonymous with Whitworth athletics on the radio, is back as the voice of the Pirates in 2013-14. Bob has called Whitworth games for the past 13 seasons, as well as in 1997-98. Bob has more than 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 Dustin McConnell, Colton McCargar, Robby Douglas, and Taylor Farnsworth as team captains for the 2013-14 season.
20-Nine is Fine: Whitworth has extended its school record for consecutive seasons with at least 20 victories to nine 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). Only Wooster (OH) with 17 and WPI (MA) with 11 have longer runs of consecutive 20-win seasons in NCAA Division III men's basketball.
Ten Again: The Feb. 18th win over Whitman was the Pirates' tenth victory in a row this season. It marks the fifth consecutive year that Whitworth has put together a winning streak of at least 10 in a row. Last season Whitworth embarked on a 20-game winning streak. In 2011-12 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).
Rolling On: The Pirates have won 126 of their last 143 games, an amazing run of success matched by few other college teams at any level. Within the Northwest Conference, Whitworth has won 82 of its last 87 – 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 139-16 (.897) in the Whitworth Fieldhouse. Since the 2005-06 season, the Bucs are 106-9 (.922) 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 almost as good away from the Whitworth Fieldhouse in Matt Logie's tenure as head coach. Since the start of the 11-12 season, Whitworth is 32-6 (.842) away from home, 25-4 (.862) in true road games.
Mr. Reliable: Colton McCargar has done everything asked of him throughout his Pirate career. This season he has transitioned to more of a wing position and moved into a starting role. He is averaging a team-high 15.3 points per game (fourth in the NWC) while making 44% of his three-point attempts (3rd in the league). He is also is second in the conference rankings in free throw percentage (84.7). He adds 4.2 rebounds per game, third on the team. He was named NWC Player of the Week on January 6th for his first weekly conference honor of his career. He poured in 23 points in the win at Whitman on January 21st and had 22 to key Whitworth's huge comeback win over George Fox on February 15th.
His role as Whitworth's sixth-man in 2012-13 led to a Second Team All-NWC selection when he averaged 13.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. He made 45% of his three-point tries last season, which ranked fourth in the NWC. He scored a career-high 26 points in the NCAA second round win over Emory.
Dustin the Wind: Dustin McConnell can leave opposing defenders in the dust with his hard drives to the basket, often getting the shot to go down while drawing a foul. This season he is averaging 12.8 points and 3.7 rebounds. He also leads the Northwest Conference in assists (3.4 per game) and in free throw percentage (85.3). He was named NWC Player of the Week on Feb. 10 after he played all 80 minutes and averaged 21.0 points per game in a pair of wins at Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran.
In 2012-13 he scored a team-best 13.7 points and added 3.3 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. 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) and was named First Team All-NWC.
He ended up with a 7.7 scoring average in 2011-12 after taking over as a starter eight games into the season. He made 38% of his attempts from three-point range.
Great George: George Valle is having another strong year in 2013-14, averaging 9.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game (which is second on the team). He had 23 points on November 23rd against Colorado College and posted his first career double-double with 11 points and 12 boards in a win at Pacific on January 3rd.
George made a huge impact in his first season with the Pirates. He was third on the team in scoring average (12.3 ppg) and made 51% of his shots from the field. His career-high is 30 points in the win at Linfield and he scored the game-winning basket and free throw at George Fox on January 11th. If he continues on the pace he set as a freshman, Valle has a chance to finish among the top career scorers in Whitworth history.
Aussie Aussie: Christian Jurlina has brought an impressive shooting touch with him from his home in Sydney, Australia. He had a breakthrough weekend in home wins over Willamette and Pacific, totaling 42 points and earning NWC men's basketball Player of the Week. He is making 50% of his shots from the field this season (ninth in NWC statistical rankings) and is tenth in the NWC in three-point percentage (40.6%). He is averaging 10.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per contest.
Two-Headed Post: Taylor Farnsworth and Adam Wilks have split time in the post this season, with Taylor averaging 20.3 minutes and Wilks coming off of the bench for 15.1 minutes per game. They combine to average 12.7 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Farnsworth leads the team led in rebounding (5.8 rpg) and blocked shots (23). Wilks leads the squad in field goal percentage (67.1).
Coming up next: Whitworth will host a team that is still to be determined in the semifinals of the NWC basketball tournament on Thursday, Feb. 27th. The time for that game is still also TBD.
The Coach: Matt Logie has led Whitworth to back-to-back 26-4 records in his first two seasons as coach of the Pirates. He was 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 in 2011-12, his first year as Whitworth's head coach. He is 33-3 in the NWC, counting each of the last two conference tournaments.
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.