SPOKANE, Wash. – The 13th-ranked Whitworth University men's basketball team will begin Northwest Conference play this week with a trip to Tacoma, Washington. The Pirates will play at the University of Puget Sound on Friday night (8:00 pm) and at Pacific Lutheran University on Saturday (6:00 pm). Both games will be broadcast live in Spokane on KSBN 1230 am and on the internet at KSBN.net.
Watch the Whitworth men's basketball schedule for other live links to this week's games.
The Pirates: Whitworth improved to 5-0 this season by winning twice in Hawaii over Thanksgiving break. The hot start gave the Pirates the highest debut in the first regular season D3hoops.com poll at 13th on Monday night.
Whitworth built a 12-point first half lead, fell behind by one late in the second half, then pulled out a 75-72 win over (then) 12th-ranked North Central College at the Hoops-in-Hawaii Thanksgiving Classic last Friday in Honolulu. Kyle Roach's three-pointer put the Pirates ahead 44-32 with just over two minutes to play in the first period. NCC chipped away in the second half and eventually took a 69-68 lead with 2:29 to go. But Ben Bishop answered with a three-point play and the Bucs never trailed again. Roach scored 22 points for game-high honors, while Bishop hit a career-high with 18 points. Jordan Lester added a dozen points and dished five assists.
Whitworth opened with a 14-2 start against Arcadia University on Saturday at Moanalua High School, but the Knights rallied to take a 31-30 lead at the break. Arcadia led for most of the second half before the Pirates used a 12-2 run to turn a 55-51 deficit into a 63-57 lead with 4:15 to play. Whitworth went on to win 75-66 to stay unbeaten. Ben College led the way with 28 points, thanks mainly to six three-pointers. He scored 20 of those points in the second half. Jared Christy posted his first double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The Opponents: The University of Puget Sound is off to a 6-0 start and the Loggers are receiving votes in the latest D3hoops.com top-25 poll. Puget Sound averages 103.5 points per game and leads the NWC in shots attempted per game (84.2) and three-pointers attempted per game (42.0). The Loggers are also second in the league in steals per game (16.5). UPS went to Southern California for Thanksgiving and defeated Pomona-Pitzer 89-84 and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 87-74. Junior guard Jimmy Wohrer leads the NWC in scoring (23.2 ppg) and in three-pointers made per game (4.5). Senior guard Nate Vieira adds 13.2 points and 3.0 assists per contest. Head coach Justin Lunt is 168-122 in his 12th year at Puget Sound. Whitworth defeated UPS twice in 2016-17, 77-65 at home and 69-62 on the road. The Pirates have won the last 19 games vs. the Loggers.
Pacific Lutheran is 2-2 overall heading into Tuesday night's home game with Multnomah Bible College. Last week the Lutes went to Santa Cruz, California and split a pair of games. They defeated La Verne 66-52, but fell 74-52 to host UC Santa Cruz at the Banana Slug's tournament. Chad Murray is in his first year coaching at PLU after serving eight years as head coach at Cornell College (Iowa). The Lutes come into the week leading the league in fewest fouls committed per game (15.5). Sophomore forward Leighton Kingma is averaging 15.3 points per contest and is making 59.1% of his three-pointers (currently third in the NWC). Senior guard Dylan Foreman adds 11.3 points per game. Whitworth has won 25 straight games against PLU, including two last season. The Bucs won 80-72 at home and 72-48 on the road.
National Ranking: The 5-0 start to the season allowed the Whitworth Pirates to debut at 13th in the first regular season d3hoops.com top-25 poll of 2016-17 (Nov. 27). The Pirates made the highest jump up the rankings of any team that was not part of the preseason top-25.
20 By 12: Whitworth extended its school record for consecutive seasons with at least 20 victories to 12 in a row in 2016-17. 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), now with 20, has a longer current run of consecutive 20-win seasons in NCAA Division III men's basketball.
More Than A Decade of Dominance: Since the beginning of the 2005-06 season (12+ years) the Pirates are 296-54 (.846), an amazing run of success matched by few other college teams at any level. Within the Northwest Conference, Whitworth has won 132 of its last 142 (.929).
Home-Sweet-Home: Whitworth has been stellar in the Whitworth Fieldhouse since the 1990's. During the decade of the 1990s and 2000's Whitworth won more than 84% of its home games. But since the beginning of the 2005-06 season, the Bucs are 149-14 (.914) at home, including the last seven in a row.
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 during Matt Logie's tenure as head coach. Since the start of the 11-12 season, Whitworth is 71-14 (.835) away from home, 53-11 (.828) in true road games.
The Main Man: Kyle Roach, the only returnee from Whitworth's starting lineup in 2016-17, earned second team All-Northwest Conference recognition last season. He will be the primary focus of most opponents' defensive efforts in 2017-18. Despite that focus, Roach has averaged 12.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists this season.
Roach finished fourth in the NWC in scoring average (15.9 ppg) while making 54.1% of his field goals (5th in the NWC) and 43.3% of his three pointers (6th in the NWC). Roach also finished second on the team in rebounding (5.2 rpg). Roach was selected as the league's men's basketball Student-Athlete of the Week twice this season (Nov. 28, Dec. 26).
Bull's Eye Ben: Ben College is picking up where he left off last season. He is 19-38 (50%) from three-point range through the first five games, including a 9-13 effort against Gallaudet on November 17th. College leads the team in scoring average (18.8 ppg) so far this season.
College finished second in the Northwest Conference in three-point field goal percentage in 2016-17, making 46.5% of his shots from beyond the arc. He was 40-86 from long distance and his best game came on December 9th against Covenant College when he went 6-8 from three-point range and scored 28 points.
Coming Home: Jared Christy came into this season with prior experience playing college games in the Whitworth Fieldhouse, but it was previously all for Pacific Lutheran. Christy earned second team All-NWC recognition as a sophomore in 2016-17 after leading the league in rebounding by a wide margin (11.2 rpg). He added 13.8 points per contest. Christy is from Spokane and played high school basketball at Ferris. He has averaged 10.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game this year and has one of Whitworth's two double-doubles.
Got the Point?: New starting point guard Jared Lester has made an immediate impact for the Pirates. The junior transfer from Robert Morris (Pa.) has averaged 14.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game so far this season. He missed a triple-double in Whitworth's win over Gallaudet on November 17 by a single assist.
On the Air Again: Whitworth's games are once again carried live this season on KSBN 1230am in Spokane. The relationship between Pirate athletics and KSBN goes back to 1994, a span of 22 years. Bud Nameck is in his second season as the voice of Whitworth basketball. The co-host of 920 KXLY radio's Morning News, Nameck has more than 30 years of experience calling college basketball at Gonzaga University and Washington State.
Coming up next: Whitworth will return home for a single game on Sunday, December 10th against Colorado College (1:00 pm).
The Coach: Matt Logie leads NCAA Division III in winning percentage by active coaches with at least five years of experience. Logie heads into the 2017-18 season with a record of 149-25 and a winning percentage of .856 over his first six seasons at Whitworth. He also accomplished what no other coach had ever done in NCAA Division III history – win 100 games in his first four seasons as a head coach. He is a three-time NWC Coach of the Year honoree, earning the award in 2012, 2014 and 2015. He is 97-11 against the NWC, counting each of the last six conference tournaments. Logie has guided several players to post-season honors in his four seasons, including Third Team NABC All-America recognition for George Valle (2016), Kenny Love (2015) and Dustin McConnell (2014). Logie has been a finalist for the Glen Robinson Division III men's basketball Coach of the Year award twice in his career (2016 and 2013)
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.