Pirates Host Puget Sound in NWC Semifinal

Pirates Host Puget Sound in NWC Semifinal

The Whitworth University men's basketball team will open the post season by hosting the University of Puget Sound in a Northwest Conference semifinal on Thursday night.  The game will tip off at 7:00 pm and 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 game.

The Pirates:  4th-ranked Whitworth improved to 22-3 overall and finished 14-2 in the NWC with home victories over Linfield and Willamette last weekend.

The Pirates posted perhaps their most efficient and balanced offensive output of the season in last Friday's 86-75 win over visiting Linfield.  Whitworth shot 60% from the field and 48% from three-point range against a team that came into the weekend leading the NWC in defensive field goal percentage and scoring defense.  All five starters scored in double figures, led by Jared Christy's 19 points.  Ben College and Garrett Hull combined to make six three-pointers and scored 17 points apiece.  Ben Bishop added 15 points and seven rebounds, while Kyle Roach scored 13 points.  Whitworth swept the season series against Linfield and won its 21st straight game against the Wildcats.

The Pirates trailed at halftime, but controlled the second half in Saturday's 75-60 victory over Willamette in the regular season finale for both teams.  Senior Joel Gabriele made his first career start and came up with a pair of steals.  He also scored the final point of the game.  Garrett Hull was the spark plug for the Bucs.  He scored 20 points, came up with seven steals and added five assists and four rebounds.  Several of his steals in the second half led to easy baskets.  Ben College also scored 20 points, hitting 4-8 from three-point range.  Kevin Crosno was the third Pirate in double figures.  He scored 12 points, making 4-5 from beyond the arc.  Whitworth has won the last 17 match ups with Willamette.

NWC Tournament Info: The Northwest Conference playoffs consist of a four-team tournament with semifinals on Thursday, Feb. 22.  As the #2 seed, Whitworth hosts #3 Puget Sound, while #4 Linfield travels to #1 Whitman.  The championship game is on Saturday, February 24 at the home of the highest remaining seed. While the 2017-18 Northwest Conference championship was decided by regular season play, the 2018 NWC playoffs will determine the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament.

Tickets for Thursday's game at Whitworth are $10 for adults and $5 for children (12 and under) and senior adults (60 and older).  Some reserved seats may still be available by calling 509-777-3224.  Remaining seats are all general admission and are available at the gate (no advanced sales).  Doors will open at 5:30 pm.

NWC Tournament History: The 2018 NWC tournament is the 22nd conference tournament since the NWC (then the NCIC) first began a league playoff in 1994.  This will be Whitworth's 21st appearance, four ahead of Lewis & Clark for the conference's all-time lead. Heading into this week the Pirates are 24-8 all-time in the league playoffs. The Bucs have appeared in the championship game 15 times and have won 12 times, most recently in 2016. The league did not hold a tournament in 1999, 2004 and 2005. The only season the Bucs did not qualify is 2000.

This will be Puget Sound's eighth appearance in the NWC tournament.  The Loggers' last appearance was 2016, their last title was 2006, and they are 5-6 all-time in the league playoffs.

The Opponents:  Puget Sound comes into Thursday's game on a roll.  The Loggers are 18-6 overall and they finished 11-5 in the NWC.  Puget Sound has won six games in a row, including Saturday's dominating 92-65 victory at Lewis & Clark that clinched third place in the conference standings.  Head coach Justin Lunt is in his 12th season and 2017-18 might be some of his best work to date.  Puget Sound leads the league in three-pointers made per game (12.1) and the team ranks second in points per game (96.6) and in steals per game (14.2), reflective of the disruptive style of play the Loggers create for their opponents.  Junior guard Jimmy Wohrer is the NWC's leading scorer this season (22.2 ppg) and he leads the league in three-pointers made (100).  Senior guard Nate Vieira adds 11.5 points and 2.1 steals per contest, while sophomore wing Stellen Roberts contributes 10.8 points per game.  However, Puget Sound is a deep team with 12-14 players seeing action each game. 

Whitworth swept the season series against the Loggers.  The Pirates won the conference opener for both teams 95-84 in Tacoma on December 1st, thanks to 55% shooting from the field.  Ben College scored 22 points and Ben Bishop had 17 for the Bucs.  Wohrer had 25 points for Puget Sound.  Whitworth then completed the season sweep with a 111-97 win in Spokane on January 27thJared Christy had a monster game for the Pirates with 26 points, 14 rebounds and four assists, to overcome a 28-point performance by Wohrer.  Whitworth has won the last 21 meetings between the schools.

Not the record:  Kyle Roach's 45 points vs. Whitman on February 6th was the second-most points in school history.  The Whitworth single-game record is 51 points set by Rod McDonald against Redlands in 1966.  McDonald is the second-leading scorer in school history with 1,807 points from 1964-67.  A second-team NAIA All-American, the Seattle Supersonics took McDonald in the ninth round of the NBA draft.  McDonald served two years in the U.S. Army, then played three years for the Utah Stars of the ABA (1971-73).  He was inducted into the Whitworth Heritage Gallery Hall of Fame in 2000.

Winning on the Oregon Trail:  Whitworth made three trips to Oregon over the span of four weekends this season.  The Pirates went to Oregon on January 19th and 20th and defeated Willamette and Linfield.  The Bucs headed back to Oregon Feb. 2-3 and picked up wins over Pacific and Lewis & Clark.  They completed the Oregon circuit with a win at George Fox February 9th.  Whitworth has won its last 20 NWC games in the state.

High Point Production:  The 111 points Whitworth scored in the January 27th win over Puget Sound were the most points for the Pirates in one game since a 112-100 double-overtime win over Whitman on January 8, 2013.  It was the most Whitworth points in a regulation game since a 115-69 win over Willamette on Feb. 11, 2011.  The school record for points in a game is 123 points vs. Northwest College on November 17, 1987.

National Ranking:  Whitworth is 4th in the most recent D3hoops.com top-25 poll (Feb. 19th) for the third week in a row.  The Pirates have appeared in 148 regular season D3hoops.com polls and have been ranked in 47 regular season polls in a row, currently the longest streak in Division III.   

Team Captains: The members of the Whitworth basketball team and coaching staff have voted Kyle Roach, Ben Bishop and Jordan Lester as captains for the 2017-18 season. 

Baker's Dozen:  With its win at George Fox on February 9th, Whitworth extended its school record for consecutive seasons with at least 20 victories to 13 in a row in 2017-18.  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 21, has a longer 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 313-57 (.846), an amazing run of success matched by few other college teams at any level.  Within the Northwest Conference, Whitworth has won 146 of its last 158 (.924).

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 159-16 (.908) 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 during Matt Logie's tenure as head coach.  Since the start of the 11-12 season, Whitworth is 78-15 (.839) away from home, 60-12 (.833) 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 is the primary focus of most opponents' defensive efforts in 2017-18.  Despite that focus, Roach is averaging 18.6 points (3rd in the NWC), 5.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists this season.  He scored a career-high 45 points on February 6th vs. #1-ranked Whitman, one game after he had 39 points in the Pirates' win at Lewis & Clark on February 3rd.  He has been selected as the NWC Player of the Week twice in 2017-18 – on January 8th and February 5th.  Roach recently became the 28th player in Whitworth history to surpass 1,000 career points. 

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) last season.  Roach also finished second on the team in rebounding (5.2 rpg).  Roach was the league's men's basketball Student-Athlete of the Week twice (Nov. 28, Dec. 26) in 2016-17. 

Bull's Eye Ben:  Ben College is picking up where he left off last season.  He is making 43.3% of his shots from three-point range (5th in the NWC), including a 9-13 effort against Gallaudet on November 17th.  College is second the team in scoring average (16.2 ppg) so far this season, which ranks seventh in the NWC.  He scored a career-high 31 points in a win over Gallaudet on November 17th

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 at PLU 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 averages 12.5 points and 9.0 rebounds per game.  He ranks second in the Northwest Conference in rebounding average and leads the league in double-doubles (10).  His 17 rebounds in the win over George Fox on January 13th are the most for any Whitworth player since Nate Montgomery had 18 boards in a win at Puget Sound on Feb. 28, 2009.

Stepping Up:  Garrett Hull became Whitworth's starting point guard on December 29, 2017 after an injury to Jordan Lester.  As Hull has become used to the role, his impact on the Pirates' season has steadily increased.  He scored a career-high 24 points in Whitworth's win at George Fox on February 9th, one game after had had 15 points, four steals and only four turnovers against Whitman's heavy pressure on January 6th.  He leads Whitworth in steals per game (2.2) and adds 9.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest.  Hull came to Whitworth after playing two seasons for the Community Colleges of Spokane.

Got the Point?:  Jordan Lester made an immediate impact for the Pirates as point guard over the first nine games of the season.  The junior transfer from Robert Morris (Pa.) was injured in the final ten seconds of the Pirates' loss to Wheaton College and will miss the remainder of the season.  He averaged 15.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game, leading the league in assists at that point.  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 24 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:  The winner of Thursday's game will advance to play the winner of the other semifinal between top-seeded Whitman and 4th-seeded Linfield on Saturday.  That game will be at 7:00 pm in the gym of the highest-remaining seed.      

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.