NWC Tourny Title on the Line at #1 Whitman

NWC Tourny Title on the Line at #1 Whitman

SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth University men's basketball team is headed to its 15th consecutive Northwest Conference tournament championship game.  The Pirates will play at top-seeded Whitman on Saturday 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 weekend's game.

Ticket Info: Tickets for Saturday's game at Whitman are $8 for adults, $5 for children (ages 6-17) and senior adults (65 and older).  Children five and under and students from the participating schools with valid Student I.D. are admitted for free.  Doors will open at 5:45 pm.

The Pirates:  4th-ranked Whitworth improved to 23-3 and earned its 25th all-time win in the NWC tournament with Thursday night's 97-79 semifinal victory over third-seeded Puget Sound.  The Bucs shot 49% from the floor while holding the Loggers to 39%, including only 23% (10-42) from three-point range.  Whitworth held a commanding edge in rebounding (53-35) and committed only 14 turnovers against the Puget Sound full-court press.  Kyle Roach was one of five starters in double figures with 21 points and he added six rebounds and four assists.  Ben Bishop scored 17 points and Jared Christy had 14 points and nine rebounds.  Garrett Hull posted his second double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds while adding three assists and three steals.  Ben College made 3-6 from three-point range and scored 13 points.  The win was Whitworth's 22nd in a row over Puget Sound.

All-NWC Recognition: Northwest Conference coaches selected Kyle Roach as the 2018 Northwest Conference Player of the Year.  The junior G/F averaged 20.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game during the NWC schedule.  He was a second team honoree last season.

Jared Christy earned second team All-NWC recognition for the second straight season.  He averaged 13.7 points and 9.5 rebounds per game in conference play.  Ben College (16.3 ppg) and Garrett Hull (11.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.9 apg, 2.8 spg) received honorable mention.

NWC Tournament Info: The Northwest Conference playoffs consist of a four-team tournament.  Top-seeded Whitman defeated 4th-seeded Linfield 87-76 in Thursday's other semifinal.  The championship game is on Saturday, February 25 in Walla Walla. 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.

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 is Whitworth's 21st appearance, four ahead of Lewis & Clark for the conference's all-time lead. After Thursday night the Pirates are 25-8 all-time in the league playoffs. Saturday night will be Whitworth's 16th appearance in the championship game, including the last 15 straight.  The Pirates 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 is Whitman's ninth appearance in the NWC tournament and eighth in a row.  The Blues claimed their first title in 2017.  They are 5-7 all-time in the conference tournament.

The Opponents:  Whitman has gone wire-to-wire as the #1 team in the D3hoops.com top-25 poll during the regular season.  The Blues improved to 26-0 with Thursday's 87-76 win over fourth-seeded Linfield in the NWC semifinals, overcoming a 31-point night by NWC Freshman of the Year Dempsey Roggenbuck.  Senior guard Tim Howell, a 2018 First Team All-NWC honoree and the 2017 NWC Player of the Year, scored 23 points for Whitman in the win.  He averages 17.7 points per game this season.  Junior guard Joey Hewitt joined Howell on the first team and he leads the Blues in scoring average this year (17.9 ppg).  Junior wing Austin Butler, a second team selection, does everything for Whitman.  He makes 64.1% of his shots (8.0 ppg) and averages 4.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 3.1 steals and 1.8 blocks per contest.  Head coach Eric Bridgeland was named the 2018 NWC Coach of the Year and he is 194-75 in his 10th year at Whitman. 

The Blues implement their pressing style of play throughout the game.  Defense most often leads to offense as Whitman leads the league in steals per game (15.8), blocked shots (4.2) and scoring average (100.3).

Whitman swept the regular season series against Whitworth and the Blues have won seven in a row against the Pirates.  Whitworth led for the first 30 minutes of this season's first meeting on January 9th in Walla Walla, but Whitman pulled away down the stretch for a 91-75 win.  Roach scored 21 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Bucs, while Hewitt led the Blues with 20 points.  The rematch February 6th in Spokane was a classic.  Ben College hit a three-pointer with nine seconds to play to give Whitworth a 99-98 lead.  Howell answered with a pair of free throws with 0.9 seconds to play to lift Whitman to a 100-99 victory.  Roach scored 45 points for the Pirates, the second-highest single game total in Whitworth history.  Howell finished with 27 points for the Blues.

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 314-57 (.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 160-16 (.909) 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 last season, is the 2017-18 NWC Player of the Year despite being the primary focus of most opponents' defensive efforts.  Roach is averaging 18.7 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 and he now has 1,106 in his career. 

Last 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) last season.  Roach also finished second on the team in rebounding (5.2 rpg).  He earned second team All-NWC recognition and 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 picked up where he left off last season.  He is making 43.5% of his shots from three-point range (4th in the NWC), including a 9-13 effort against Gallaudet on November 17th.  College is second the team in scoring average (16.1 ppg) this season, which ranks seventh in the NWC.  He scored a career-high 31 points in a win over Gallaudet on November 17th.  College is an honorable mention All-NWC selection in 2018.

College finished second in the Northwest Conference in three-point field goal percentage as a freshman 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 earned his second consecutive second team All-NWC honor this year by averaging 12.6 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.  Since then Hull's impact on the Pirates' season has steadily increased and he received 2018 honorable mention All-NWC consideration.  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 (2.3) and adds 9.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per contest.  Hull came to Whitworth after playing two seasons for the Community Colleges of Spokane.

Bishop's Move:  Ben Bishop is in his first season as Whitworth's starting post player.  He can finish effectively around the basket and ranks second in the NWC in overall field goal percentage (63.4).  Bishop is averaging 8.9 points per game and scored a career-high 18 points on November 24th against North Central (Ill.) and matched it on February 9th at George Fox.

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 NCAA will announce the Division III men's tournament field on Monday morning at 9:30 am (PST) on NCAA.com.      

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.