Bucs Host Willamette, Pacific in NWC Openers

Photo courtesy Trinity University
Photo courtesy Trinity University

SPOKANE, Wash. – The Northwest Conference schedule is already upon the 2018-19 Whitworth University men's basketball team.  The 14th-ranked Pirates will host Willamette on Friday at 8:00 pm and then take on Pacific (Ore.) on Saturday at 6:00 pm.  SWX will televise Friday's contest and both games will air live on KSBN radio 1230 am. 

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

Hometown Harvest: Whitworth University is partnering with KHQ to support the local television station's Hometown Harvest food drive this weekend.  Any fan that brings two non-perishable food items this weekend will gain free admission to Friday and Saturday Northwest Conference doubleheaders.  The women's games start at 6:00 on Friday and 4:00 on Saturday, followed by the men's games.  All donated items will support local food banks.  Click here for more information about what items to bring.

SWX TV Game: Friday's game will be televised locally on cable station SWX.  Bob Castle will call play-by-play while former CVHS coach Freddie Rehkow gives color commentary.  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. 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.

The Pirates:  Whitworth spent Thanksgiving weekend in San Antonio and split a pair of contests at the Leslie Robinson Classic.

The Pirates defeated host Trinity University (76-65) on Friday night in the opener of the Leslie Robinson Classic.  Whitworth held the Tigers to 39% shooting from the field (19-49) and forced 18 turnovers.  Ben College scored 29 points for the second straight game, just two points off his career high.  Kyle Roach added 12 points and dished eight assists.  Jordan Lester also scored 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. 

Whitworth suffered its first loss of 2018-19 in an 88-79 setback to a fresh Texas-Dallas squad on Saturday.  Foul trouble plagued the Pirates as three players, including two starters, fouled out of the game.  The Comets took advantage of the foul trouble against Pirate big men to gain a 40-20 edge on the boards.  Roach scored a season-high 30 points to lead Whitworth.  Lester added 17 points, seven assists and five steals.  College scored 17 points, making 5-8 from three-point range.  The Bucs shot 49% from the field, but struggled from the free throw line (54% - 14 of 26).

The Opponents:  Willamette University is 4-0 heading into Friday night's game.  The Bearcats lost twice in California over the Thanksgiving Holiday, falling 85-71 at Pomona-Pitzer and 70-43 to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.  Willamette plays solid defense and ranks second in the NWC in blocks per game (4.3).  Head coach Kip Ioane is in his 10th season.  Senior forward Jordan Jenkins, a second team All-NWC honoree in 2018, averages 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.  Sophomore guard Justin Eaglesmith is making nearly 65% of his three-pointers this season and adding 10.8 points per contest.  Whitworth swept Willamette last season, pulling out a 67-65 win on the road and claiming a 76-60 victory at home.  The Pirates have won the last 17 meetings between the schools.

Pacific University will bring a new, but familiar look, into Saturday's game.  After 12 seasons at Puget Sound, Justin Lunt is the new coach of the Boxers and he has brought his run-and-gun style with him.  The Boxers are 3-2 (heading into Friday night's game at Whitman) after defeating Cal Lutheran 126-109 last Wednesday.  The Boxers scored 70 first half points against the Kingsmen.  Reflective of the style, Pacific leads the NWC in points per game (118.0) and steals per game (14.4).  Senior guard Brevin Brown (21.2 ppg) and junior guard Marcus Wallace (20.8 ppg) rank fourth and sixth, respectively, in scoring in the NWC this season.  Whitworth defeated the Boxers twice in 2017-18, winning 83-71 at home and 89-67 on the road.  The Pirates have a three-game winning streak in the series.

National Ranking:  The Whitworth Pirates are ranked 14th in the first regular season D3hoops.com poll.  The Bucs were sixth in the preseason poll.   Whitworth has appeared in 151 D3hoops.com regular season polls and has been ranked in 50 regular season polls in a row, currently the longest streak in Division III.  

NWC Preseason Poll: Whitworth is second in the 2018-19 Northwest Conference coaches poll.  The Pirates received four first place votes and 60 points, trailing only defending champion Whitman (5 first place votes, 61 points).  Whitworth is aiming for a 13th consecutive trip to the NCAA Division III tournament.

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 318-59 (.843), 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 82-17 (.828) away from home, 62-12 (.839) 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 has 1,212 points in his career.  He is currently averaging 17.3 points per game and making 46.5% of his shots.

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 off to a great start this season, averaging 21.5 points per game (third in the NWC).  He scored 29 points in back to back wins over Whittier and Trinity.  College is next in line to join the 1,000 career-point club with 754 points so far.

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 10.0 points and 8.5 rebounds (first in the NWC) per game so far this year.

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 his role as the starting point guard in 2018-19.  He is averaging 11.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game.

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.

Stepping Up:  Garrett Hull stepped in as Whitworth's starting point guard on December 29, 2017 after an injury to Jordan Lester.  Hull received 2018 honorable mention All-NWC consideration with an average of 10.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.  He also led Whitworth in steals per game (2.2).  Hull scored a career-high 24 points in Whitworth's win at George Fox on February 9th and he posted back-to-back double-doubles in the NWC tournament.  Hull came to Whitworth after playing two seasons for the Community Colleges of Spokane.

Bishop's Move:  Ben Bishop is in his second season as Whitworth's starting post player.  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:  The rest of Whitworth's 2018-19 games will 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 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 host a pair of non-conference games heading into final exams.  The Pirates will take on La Verne on December 8th and D'Youville on December 10th

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 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.