SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth University men's basketball team heads into the final home weekend of the regular season with a chance to clinch the right to host a semifinal game in the Northwest Conference tournament. The Pirates will take on Linfield College on Friday night (8:00 pm) in a game that local station SWX will televise live. Whitworth will host George Fox University on Saturday (6:00 pm). Both games will tip off as the second half of a women's-men's doubleheader and KSBN radio 1230 am will air both games live.
Watch the Whitworth men's basketball schedule for other live links to this week's games.
The Pirates: Whitworth split a pair of games last week and the 15th-ranked Pirates are now 17-4 overall and 9-3 in the Northwest Conference.
Whitworth trailed by as many as 20 points in the second half before rallying to within eight points (96-88), but 3rd-ranked Whitman held on for a 110-98 victory to sweep the season series from the Pirates. Whitworth had trouble offensively and defensively in the first half, when the Blues took a 50-36 lead at the break. While the Pirates were shooting only 44.8% from the floor, Whitman made 54.1% of its baskets. Whitworth's shooting improved significantly in the second half (24-35 – 68.6%), but not enough to overcome the deficit. Ben College scored 24 points while Kyle Roach added 17 and Isaiah Hernandez came off the bench for 15. Jared Christy had eight rebounds as the Bucs ended with a 36-26 advantage in rebounding. However, Whitworth was undone by 20 turnovers.
Trailing by seven points with five minutes left in the game, Whitworth was staring at its first three-game losing streak since 2008 against visiting Lewis & Clark on Saturday night. The Pirate defense held the Pioneers to 1 of 10 shooting from the floor over the final five minutes to rally for a 77-75 victory. Whitworth was able to pull out the win despite its worst three-point shooting night of the season (3-20, 15%) as well as a rough night from the free throw line (16-27, 59.3%). College added 20 more points while Roach totaled 16 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots. Christy tallied 14 points and six boards. Hernandez, making his first career start in place of an ill Jordan Lester, contributed 13 points and Ben Bishop's ten points meant all five starters reached double figures. Whitworth earned its 12th straight win over Lewis & Clark.
The Opponents: Linfield College (15-6, 8-4 NWC) trails Whitworth by only one game in the NWC standings heading into the weekend. The Wildcats fell 92-85 at Puget Sound last Friday before bouncing back to beat Willamette 82-69 at home on Saturday. Linfield leads the league in assists per game (19.0) and on defense in points allowed (74.5) and opponents' field goal percentage (40.9). Sophomore guard Dempsey Roggenbuck contributes 19.0 points per game and junior forward Grant Gibb adds 12 points per contest. Senior swingman Liam O'Reilly averages 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds and had 27 points in the teams' first meeting this season on January 12th. Whitworth won that game 78-75 after trailing by three points with less than three minutes to play. Ben College scored 26 points for the Pirates, who earned their 22nd win in a row over the Wildcats.
George fox University (12-9 overall, 6-6 NWC) remains tied for fourth place in the NWC standings heading into this Friday night's game at Whitman. The Bruins won 111-105 at Pacific (Ore.) last Friday before falling 79-69 at home to Pacific Lutheran on Saturday. George Fox leads the conference in team rebounds per game (39.8) and features a dynamic backcourt duo in senior guard Mason Green-Richards and sophomore guard Ryan Lacey. Green-Richards averages 19.0 points and 3.0 assists per game, while Lacey contributes 17.3 points and 5.2 rebounds. Whitworth built a big halftime lead at George Fox on January 11th before hanging on to win 88-85 thanks to 27 points from Kyle Roach. It was the Pirates' 10th win in a row over the Bruins.
Senior Recognition: Four Whitworth seniors will be recognized prior to the tip of Saturday's game against George Fox. Ben Bishop, Jared Christy, Kevin Crosno and Kyle Roach will be playing in their final regular season home game as Pirates. Bishop and Roach have a four-year record of 90-15.
Making the List: Ben College and Kyle Roach are on the Top-100 watch list for the 2019 Bevo Francis Award. The Clarence "Bevo" Francis Award is presented annually to the men's basketball player who has had the finest overall season within small college basketball (NCAA Div. II, NCAA Div. II, NAIA Div. I, NAIA Div. II, NSCAA, and USCAA – a total nearing 1,200 colleges and universities). Considerations include season statistics and individual achievements, awards, personal character and team achievements. Bevo Francis, one of the greatest small college players in history, starred at the University of Rio Grande (Ohio) for two seasons (1952-53 and 1953-54). By the time he was done in college, Francis was arguably the most famous basketball player in the world.
The watch list will be narrowed to 50 players on February 15, 2019 and 25 players on March 15, 2019. The finalists will be named on April 6th and the winner will be announced on April 8th.
One More SWX TV Game: Friday's NWC doubleheader with Linfield will be televised locally on cable station SWX. Owned by local NBC affiliate KHQ (channel 6), SWX stands for Sports & Weather Right Now. SWX can be seen both over-the-air and through some cable services in the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene, Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, and Yakima viewership areas, as well as much of Montana. In the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area, SWX is found on digital channel 6.2, on Comcast channel 112 in Spokane and Time Warner channel 306 in North Idaho.
Smoking Hot: During a five-game stretch from November 30th – December 19th, the Pirates posted the most explosive offensive production in school history. The Bucs went 5-0 and averaged 114.2 points per game. Whitworth made 57.1% of its shots from the field and 42.7% of its three-pointers over that stretch, averaged 25.6 assists per game and gave up only 12.2 turnovers - a ratio better than 2-1.
Whitworth had only hit triple figures in consecutive games once in school history. The Pirates surpassed 100 points four straight games, including a school-record 143 points on December 19th against Concordia-Chicago. The Pirates set a school record for assists in a game (41) during the 123-98 win over Pacific (Ore.) on December 1st. The Bucs also broke the records for free throws made (40) and attempted (49) in one game against Concordia-Chicago.
National Ranking: The Whitworth Pirates are ranked 15th in the latest (Feb. 4) D3hoops.com top-25 poll. The Bucs fell five spots after splitting last week's games. Whitworth has appeared in 159 D3hoops.com regular season polls and has been ranked in 58 regular season polls in a row, currently the longest streak in Division III.
Baker's Dozen: With its win at George Fox last 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 (13+ years) the Pirates are 332-62 (.843), an amazing run of success matched by few other college teams at any level. Within the Northwest Conference, Whitworth has won 155 of its last 170 (.900).
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. However, since the beginning of the 2005-06 season, the Bucs are 168-17 (.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 88-19 (.822) away from home, 66-14 (.825) in true road games.
The Main Man: Kyle Roach, now in his third season as a starter, was the 2017-18 NWC Player of the Year and an NABC Division III first team All-American. Last season Roach became the 28th player in Whitworth history to surpass 1,000 career points and he now has 1,513 points to rank 7th on the Pirates' all-time scoring list. Roach is 39 points away from moving past Nate Dunham (1994-97) into sixth place on the list, and 64 points from surpassing Christian Jurlina (2014-17) for fifth place all-time. He is averaging 17.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game in 2018-19. Roach was selected as the NWC's men's basketball student-athlete of the week on January 21st.
Roach averaged 18.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists last season and he hit the game-winning three-pointer in the Pirates' NWC tournament championship victory. He scored a career-high 45 points on February 6, 2018 vs. #1-ranked Whitman, one game after he had 39 points in the Pirates' win at Lewis & Clark on February 3rd. He was the NWC Player of the Week twice in 2017-18 – on January 8th and February 5th.
As a sophomore in 2016-17, 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). He earned second team All-NWC recognition and was the league's Student-Athlete of the Week twice (Nov. 28, Dec. 26) in 2016-17.
Bull's Eye Ben: Ben College is driving Whitworth's offensive explosion in 2018-19. He set a school-record with 11 three-pointers and a career-high 37 points during the Pirates' 104-74 win over D'Youville College on December 8th and he ranks second in the Northwest Conference in scoring average at 20.9 points per game. Currently making 46% of his three-pointers, College ranks 19th in NCAA DIII in three-pointers made per game (3.52), 18th in three-point percentage and 11th in free throw percentage (90.9). He was selected as the NWC's men's basketball student-athlete of the week on January 4th and on January 18th he became the 29th player in Whitworth history to surpass 1,000 career points and he currently has 1,106.
College had a big shooting year in 2017-18. He made 45% of his shots from three-point range, including a 9-13 effort against Gallaudet on November 17th and a 6-10 night in the NWC tournament final at Whitman. College was second on the team in scoring average (16.5 ppg) and scored a career-high 31 points in a win over Gallaudet on November 17, 2017. College was 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.
Chairman of the Boards: No player in the Northwest Conference has accumulated more rebounds over the last four seasons than Jared Christy. He has battled through injuries to average 9.7 points and 9.1 rebounds (third in the NWC) per game so far this year. He has four double-doubles in 2018-19 and has 27 in his career. Including his two seasons at PLU, Christy has totaled 1,087 points and 917 rebounds in his career.
Christy came to Whitworth last season after spending two years Pacific Lutheran and earned his second consecutive second team All-NWC honor. He averaged 12.8 points and 9.0 rebounds per game and led the Northwest Conference in double-doubles (10). His 17 rebounds in the win over George Fox on January 13, 2017 were the most for any Whitworth player since Nate Montgomery had 18 boards in a win at Puget Sound on Feb. 28, 2009.
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.
Got the Point?: Jordan Lester has returned to the role of starting point guard in 2018-19. He is averaging 12.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.3 steals per game. His assist-to-turnover ratio is 1.73 (6th in the NWC).
The redshirt junior transfer from Robert Morris (Pa.) averaged 15.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game before injuring his knee in the ninth game of the season in 2017-17. At that time he led the league in assists and was third in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.31). He missed a triple-double in Whitworth's win over Gallaudet on November 17 by a single assist.
Bishop's Move: Ben Bishop is in his second season as Whitworth's starting post player and he averages 8.0 points per contest while leading the Northwest Conference in field goal percentage (68.4).
In 2017-18 he ranked second in the NWC in field goal percentage (62.2). Bishop averaged 8.5 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: Local radio station KSBN 1230am once again carries Whitworth basketball live in Spokane in 2018-19. The relationship between Pirate athletics and KSBN goes back to 1994, a span of 24 years. Bud Nameck is in his third 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 finish out the regular season with games at Pacific Lutheran on Friday, Feb. 15th and George Fox on Saturday, Feb. 16th.
The Coach: Matt Logie leads all of the NCAA in winning percentage by active coaches with at least five years of experience. Logie heads into the 2018-19 season with a record of 173-29 and a winning percentage of .856 over his first seven 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 113-14 against the NWC, counting games from the conference tournaments. Logie has guided several players to post-season honors in his seven seasons. In 2018 Kyle Roach was named to the NABC Division III All-America team and selected as the NWC Player of the Year. In 2016 Kenny Love and Christian Jurlina each earned First Team All-Northwest Conference recognition for the third time in their careers, joining a small list of players in league history to accomplish that feat. Love also earned All-Region recognition in 2017 and was the NWC Player of the year and a Third Team All-American in 2015. George Valle was selected as the NWC Player of the Year and a Third Team All-American (NABC) in 2016. 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.