Whits Headed West for Pair of Showdowns

Whits Headed West for Pair of Showdowns

SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth University men's basketball team is on the road again for two important Northwest Conference games this coming weekend.  The Pirates will travel to Tacoma to battle Pacific Lutheran on Friday (8:00 pm) and Puget Sound on Saturday (6:00 pm) in a pair of games that will factor heavily into the conference playoff chase.  Both games will be heard live in Spokane on KSBN 1230 am and on the web at KSBN.net.

Watch the Whitworth men's basketball schedule for other live links to this week's games.

The Pirates:  Whitworth is 18-3 overall and 9-3 in the NWC this season following a road sweep last week at Linfield and Pacific (Ore.).  The Bucs are ranked 6th in the latest D3hoops.com top-25 poll and need only two more victories to clinch their 12th consecutive 20-win season.

Whitworth won 79-63 at Linfield last Friday night, using strong defense to defeat the team with the best defensive statistics in the NWC.  The Pirates held the Wildcats to only 35.5% from the field and 23.8% from three-point range while making 54% of their own shots in the win.  Linfield never took a lead and Whitworth led by as many as 24 points in the second half.  Christian Jurlina paced the Pirates with 18 points, while Kyle Roach contributed 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists.  CJ Johnson had a strong game off of the bench with a dozen points.

The Pirates got a measure of revenge for one of only three losses this season when they won 63-58 at Pacific (Ore.) on Saturday night.  The Boxers shot nearly 55% from three-point range in their 90-88 upset of Whitworth in Spokane in January, but the Pirate defense held Pacific to only 13.6% (3-22) from beyond the arc in the second game.  And Whitworth was making 61.5% (8-13) of its three pointers, none bigger than two by Derek Isaak in the final two minutes that held off Pacific's comeback.  Isaak led the Pirates with 13 points, while Roach scored 12 and Jurlina added ten.

NWC Tournament Picture:  The top four teams in the final Northwest Conference standings will qualify for the 2017 NWC Tournament.  Two of the four spots seem to be locked up. Second-ranked Whitman has clinched a playoff spot and needs only one more win to clinch the league's #1 seed.  Whitworth needs to win only two of its final four games to clinch another playoff spot.  The final two spots are up for grabs and five schools are within two games of one another.  George Fox (7-5) is currently third, while Linfield and PLU (both 6-6) are tied for fourth, one game ahead of Puget Sound and Lewis & Clark (both 5-7).

The Opponents:  Pacific Lutheran (12-11 overall, 6-6 NWC) is one of five teams vying for a spot in the fast-approaching NWC tournament.  The Lutes' 77-65 win at Willamette last Friday was their fourth in a row, but that winning streak was stopped by George Fox on Saturday (101-70).  PLU does not beat itself and leads the league in fewest turnovers per game (12.3) and in fewest personal fouls per game (16.2).  Senior guard Brandon Lester is the league's second-leading scorer at 17.2 points per game.  Sophomore wing Jared Christy adds 14.6 points per game and leads the NWC in rebounding (10.9 rpg).  Whitworth earned its 24th straight win over PLU on January 14th by the score of 80-72.  Christian Jurlina had 18 points and Derek Isaak added 14. 

The University of Puget Sound is 12-9 overall and 5-7 in the NWC heading into Friday night's game against Whitman.  The Loggers are still very much alive in the hunt for the conference tournament thanks to road victories at Lewis & Clark (84-76) and at Willamette (70-62) last weekend.  Puget Sound leads the NWC in rebounding (39.0 rpg) and ranks second in opponent field goal percentage (40.6).  Shooting guards Carlos Mancasola (Sr.) and Jimmy Wohrer (So.) can light it up from three-point range and combine to average 28.5 points per game.  But its senior Kohl Meyer who fuels the Loggers with averages of 11.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists (1st in the NWC) per game.  Whitworth rallied from 15 points behind to defeat Puget Sound 77-65 in Spokane on January 13th for an 18th straight win over the Loggers.  Kyle Roach scored 22 points and Kenny Love added 21 in the victory.

On Fire:  Eighty percent of the way through the 2016-17 season, Whitworth remains one of the hottest shooting teams in all of NCAA Division III.  The Pirates rank among the top-15 teams in the nation (out of 416) in all three shooting categories:  Field Goals (15th, 49.3%), Free Throws (14th, 77.4%) and Three-Pointers (6th, 41.7%).  Needless to say, Whitworth leads the Northwest Conference in all three categories by a wide margin.

Forecast in the 90's:  Whitworth has reached 90 points in a game seven times in 2016-17.  The only other time that the Pirates hit 90 points as many as seven times in one year was 2010-11, a season in which the Bucs finished 28-2 and spent much of the year ranked #1 in the country.  They hit 90 or more seven times in 30 games that season.

National Ranking:  Whitworth moved back up to 6th in the latest (Feb. 6) D3hoops.com poll, two spots better than the previous week.  Dating back to late January of 2015, Whitworth has been ranked in 32 consecutive D3hoops.com polls.  The Pirates' longest streak of appearing in the D3hoops.com national rankings was 52 consecutive polls from midway through the 2009-10 season until December of 2014.   

Team Captains: The members of the Whitworth basketball team and coaching staff have voted all four seniors – Derek Isaak, Christian Jurlina, Kenny Love, and Drew Sears as captains for the 2016-17 season.  It is Love's second year as a captain.

20 By 11:  Last season Whitworth extended its school record for consecutive seasons with at least 20 victories to 11 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 19 and WPI (MA) with 13 have longer current runs of consecutive 20-win seasons in NCAA Division III men's basketball.  Whitworth is tied with St. Thomas (Minn.) at 11 in a row.

More Than A Decade of Dominance:  Since the beginning of the 2005-06 season the Pirates are 286-52 (.846) over the last 11+ years, an amazing run of success matched by few other college teams at any level.  Within the Northwest Conference, Whitworth has won 127 of its last 136 (.934) – including the 14 wins from the last seven NWC tournaments.

Home-Sweet-Home:  Whitworth has been stellar in the Whitworth Fieldhouse since the at least the 1990's. But since the beginning of the 2005-06 season, the Bucs are 143-14 (.911) at home. During the decade of the 1990s and 2000's Whitworth won more than 84% of its home games.

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 67-12 (.848) away from home, 51-10 (.836) in true road games.

Showing Some Love:  It is another big season for senior guard Kenny Love.  Love is averaging 12.9 points per game and has made 41.2% of his three-pointers.  In December he became the 28th player in Whitworth history to surpass 1,000 career points and he currently has 1,174.  He ranks second in the NWC in assists per game (4.3). Love, a two-time All-Northwest Conference honoree, was picked to the 2016-17 D3hoops.com Preseason All-American team (honorable mention).  He has also been voted as a team captain for the second year in a row. 

Love was a First Team All-NWC honoree for the second straight year in 2015-16, despite missing four games to an eye injury in December.  He averaged 14.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.  Love made 41.2% of his three-pointers and 81.8% of his free throws.  He scored a career-high 28 points in Whitworth's win over Calvin College on December 29th, leading to a selection as the D3hoops.com Classic MVP and NWC Player of the Week, and he was the leading scorer with 23 points in the Pirates' victory over PLU in the NWC tournament championship game.

Love was the NWC Player of the Year, a First Team All-Region selection and a Third Team All-American (NABC) as a sophomore in 2014-15.  He averaged 11.9 points per game overall, but he averaged a team-best 14.7 points per game against NWC foes.  He ranked third in the league that season in three-point percentage (45.1%) and was the Pirates' leader in assists per game (2.7).

Aussie Aussie:  Christian Jurlina, a senior from Sydney, Australia, is in his third straight year as a Pirate starter in 2016-17.  He is now seventh on Whitworth's all-time scoring list with 1,444 points and he needs 14 points to move into sixth place.  Jurlina is averaging 15.0 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.  He is making 44.4% of his three-point attempts to rank 6th in the NWC.  He was selected as the NWC's men's basketball Student-Athlete of the Week on December 12th

Jurlina claimed his second straight First Team All-NWC award in 2015-16.  He scored 14.6 points per contest and added 5.4 rebounds per game.  Jurlina scored 27 points in a victory over Lewis & Clark on December 4th and on January 15 and 16 he led Whitworth win wins over Willamette and George Fox, averaging 19.0 points and 8.0 rebounds to earn the NWC Player of the Week honor.

Jurlina became a First Team All-NWC honoree as a sophomore (2014-15), leading the Pirates in scoring at 14.8 points per game.  He made 44.3% of his shots from the field and 41.4% of his three-pointers.  He also worked hard on the defensive end, leading the team in steals (54) and in rebounding (5.4 rpg).  He was the NWC Player of the Week on December 29th for his work in Whitworth's wins over Marian (Wis.) and Wells (N.Y.).

As a freshman Jurlina was named the NWC men's basketball Player of the Week on February 3rd after a breakout weekend in wins over Willamette and Pacific.  He averaged 10.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game to rank third on the team in both categories.  He was one of only two first-year players on the 2014 All-NWC list, earning honorable mention honors.

The Sears Tower:  Bad news for Whitworth opponents in 2016-17: senior post Drew Sears grew an inch and a half since last season and is now officially seven feet tall.  He used all of that height while batting away a career-high seven shots in the season-opening win over St. Olaf and he currently leads the conference with an average of 1.8 blocks per game.  Sears is averaging none points and 4.7 rebounds per contest.  His overall field goal percentage of 64.2% ranks second in the NWC.

Sears established himself as a dominating post player in the NWC as a junior, making 64.2% of his shots from the floor to lead the conference.  He also led the league in blocked shots per game (2.3) by a wide margin.  He averaged 7.8 points per game and led the team with 16 points in the NWC semifinal win over Puget Sound.  He set his career-high of 17 points in the win over Pacific on February 6th.

Super Soph:  Kyle Roach, the only sophomore in the Whitworth starting lineup among four seniors, is having a terrific season.  He is fourth in the Northwest Conference in scoring average (16.0 ppg) while making 53.9% of his field goals (5th in the NWC) and 44.3% of his three pointers (8th in the NWC).  Roach also leads the team in rebounding (5.3 rpg).  Roach is one of only three players in the Northwest Conference to be selected as the league's men's basketball Student-Athlete of the Week more than once this season (Nov. 28, Dec. 26). 

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 the new 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 conclude the regular season with home games against George Fox and Lewis & Clark next Friday and Saturday.  

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 2016-17 season with a record of 126-20 and a winning percentage of .863 over his first five 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 83-7 against the NWC, counting each of the last five 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.