Pirate Men Set for Renewal of NWC Slate

Pirate Men Set for Renewal of NWC Slate

SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth University men's basketball team rides a seven-game winning streak into 2019 and the renewal of Northwest Conference action.  The Pirates will travel to Lewis & Clark College on Friday night before hosting Whitman College next Tuesday in a showdown of top-ten teams.  Both games will tip off at 8:00 pm as the second half of a women's-men's doubleheader and KSBN radio 1230 am will air both games live.  Local television station SWX will carry Tuesday's doubleheader live in Eastern Washington, North Idaho and Montana.

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

The Pirates:  Ninth-ranked Whitworth headed to Las Vegas post-Christmas for the 2018 D3hoops.com Classic at the South Point Arena and came away with a pair of victories to improve 10-1 with a seven-game winning streak.

Jordan Lester's layin with 1.2 seconds to play lifted the Pirates to a 76-74 win over Johns Hopkins University, defending champions of the Centennial Conference, on Saturday afternoon.  Lester also made the defensive play of the game, stealing the ball near mid-court and feeding Ben College for a game-tying three-pointer with 30 seconds to play.  After struggling to shoot the ball in the first half (42%), Whitworth found its offensive rhythm in the second period (52%) in a game that featured 13 ties and 14 lead changes.  Kyle Roach led the Bucs with 20 points and a career-high 13 rebounds for his first double-double of the season.  Lester added 14 points, seven boards, three assists and three steals, while Ben College contributed 13 points and five assists. 

The Pirates led all the way against Emory & Henry College, building a 19-point lead in the second half before prevailing 87-80.  Whitworth made 57% (29-51) of its shots from the field and led for 39 minutes of the game, but had trouble separating from the Wasps, who are defending champions of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.  Whitworth effectively moved the ball and totaled 20 assists on the 29 baskets.  Lester, Roach and Jared Christy combined on 16 of those assists.  College led the Bucs with 23 points while Kevin Crosno came off the bench to score a career-high 15 points on 4-6 shooting from beyond the arc.  Christy and Ben Bishop added 11 and 10 points, respectively, while Lester led the team with 13 rebounds. 

Vegas Recap:  Whitworth completed its fourth trip in the last nine years to the D3hoops.com Classic with two more victories.  The Pirates are now 7-1 all-time at the prestigious tournament.  Ben College became the third Whitworth player selected as the men's MVP of the tournament, scoring 36 points in the two victories.  He joins previous MVPs Michael Taylor (2010) and Kenny Love (2015). 

The Opponents:  Lewis & Clark is 4-7 overall and 0-2 in the NWC heading into Friday night's matchup.  The Pioneers have not played a game since before Christmas when they took a trip to Southern California and lost 64-60 at Caltech on December 21st before bouncing back to beat Cal Lutheran 70-64 on December 22nd.  L&C is an NWC-leader in several defensive categories, including blocked shots per game (first at 4.2), opponents' three-point percentage (first at 31.8) and opponents' field goal percentage (third at 45.5).  Tim McCrory is in his first season as the head coach of the Pioneers after serving as the top assistant at Oberlin for the previous seven years. Senior guard Kyle Owens averages 14.4 points per game and makes 45.5% of his three-point tries.  Junior forward Zeke Crawford adds 10.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.  Whitworth swept L&C last season, winning 98-91 at home and 76-70 on the road.  Kyle Roach averaged 33.5 points in the two victories.  The Pirates have won the last ten games between the teams.

Whitman College heads into a Saturday night game at Lewis & Clark 10-1 overall, 2-0 in the NWC and ranked 4th in the last D3hoops.com poll.  Head coach Eric Bridgeland is leading the Blues for the 11th season and his squad once again features a high-pressure offensive and defensive attack.  Whitman leads the league, and ranks highly in NCAA DIII, in steals per game (14.4), scoring offense (104.5) and scoring margin (+23.5).  Senior guard Joey Hewitt is the team's leading scorer (15.5 ppg) while senior wing Jack Stewart adds 12.8 ppg and makes 52.2% of his three-pointers.  Senior wing Austin Butler contributes 9.6 points and leads the team in rebounding (6.5 rpg) and assists (5.6 apg).  Whitman won both regular season matchups in 2017-18 – 91-75 in Walla Walla and 100-99 in Spokane.  However, the Pirates claimed a 91-88 victory in the NWC tournament championship in Walla Walla.

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.

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.

More Big Numbers: Whitworth currently ranks among the top-20 schools in NCAA DIII in several statistical categories:
3rd in team field goal percentage – 53.6
8th in scoring offense – 95.6
13th in scoring margin - +19.4
14th in assists per game – 19.2
19th in assist-to-turnover ratio – 1.42

National Ranking:  The Whitworth Pirates are ranked 9th in the latest (Dec. 17) D3hoops.com poll.  The next poll will not appear until January 7th.  Whitworth has appeared in 154 D3hoops.com regular season polls and has been ranked in 53 regular season polls in a row, currently the longest streak in Division III.  

NWC Preseason Poll: Whitworth was second in the 2018-19 Northwest Conference preseason 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 325-59 (.846), an amazing run of success matched by few other college teams at any level.  Within the Northwest Conference, Whitworth has won 148 of its last 160 (.925).

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 165-16 (.911) 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 84-17 (.832) 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 now has 1,335 points to rank 12th on the Pirates' all-time scoring list.  He is averaging 17.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in 2018-19.

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 during the Pirates' 104-74 win over D'Youville on December 8th and he leads the team in scoring average (20.8 – third in the NWC).  He scored his career high of 37 points in that win.  Currently making 47.9% of his three-pointers, College ranks ninth in NCAA DIII in three-pointers made per game (4.09).

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 9.8 points and 9.0 rebounds (first in the NWC) per game so far this year.  He has three double-doubles in 2018-19 and has 26 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 12.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.7 steals per game.  His assist-to-turnover ratio is 2.13. 

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 7.5 points per contest while making 71.1% of his shots from the field.

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:  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:  Following next Tuesday's game against Whitman, Whitworth will head back to Oregon for Northwest Conference contests at George Fox and Linfield. 

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.