The Whitworth University men's basketball team returns home to close out the first half of the Northwest Conference schedule this weekend. The Pirates will host Puget Sound on Friday night (8:00 pm), and then take on Pacific Lutheran 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: 6th-ranked Whitworth bounced back from its first loss of the season with a pair of hard-fought road victories at George Fox and Linfield last weekend. Both the Bruins and the Wildcats came into the weekend tied for first place and unbeaten in league play.
Whitworth built a 60-45 halftime lead, but George Fox rallied to within two points on three occasions in the second half before the Pirates secured an 88-85 victory in Newberg, Oregon. Whitworth made 58% of its shots from the field, including 47% from three-point range. However, the Pirates committed 21 turnovers, including 13 after halftime. Kyle Roach scored 27 points for the Bucs, making 9 of his 13 shots from the field (4-7 from beyond the arc). He also had seven rebounds. Jordan Lester added 13 points and Jared Christy had 10 of Whitworth's 35 rebounds.
Trailing for much of the second half, Whitworth closed the game on a 9-3 run over the final 2:45 to pull out a 78-75 victory at Linfield on Saturday night. Ben College converted a three-point play to tie the game and Jordan Lester followed with a three-pointer to give the Pirates the lead for good with 1:22 to go. Whitworth won despite a cold shooting night (43%) by holding the normally hot-shooting Wildcats to 2-15 (13%) from three-point range. College led Whitworth with 26 points while Isaiah Hernandez came off the bench for 15 points to tie his career-high. Kyle Roach scored eight of his 12 points in the second half. Christy grabbed a game-high 12 boards despite suffering a cut above his eye that required five stitches.
Making the List: Ben College and Kyle Roach have been named to 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.
The Opponents: Puget Sound is 7-8 overall and 3-3 in the NWC after a pair of league victories last weekend. The Loggers pushed themselves into contention for a conference tournament playoff spot with home victories over Willamette (85-75) and Lewis & Clark (77-69). Aubrey Shelton, a former standout forward for Puget Sound (2002-05), is in his first season as head coach at his alma mater. His squad leads the league in three-point shooting (42.4%) and free throw shooting (73.9%). Senior guard Jimmy Wohrer has been one of the most prolific scorers in the NWC over the last two seasons. He is averaging 20.3 points per game and making 41% of his three-pointers. Junior forward Stellan Roberts adds 14.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. Whitworth defeated Puget Sound three times in 2017-18. The Bucs won the NWC opener for both teams 95-85 in Tacoma then beat the Loggers 111-97 at home in the highest-scoring output of the season. Whitworth beat Puget Sound 97-79 in the NWC tournament semifinals to extend the Pirates' winning streak over the Loggers to 22 games.
Pacific Lutheran heads into Friday night's game at Whitman 6-8 overall and 3-3 in the NWC. The Lutes are in their second season under Chad Murray, following his eight seasons at Cornell College (Iowa). PLU defeated Lewis & Clark 85-79 last Friday before falling 116-83 to Pacific (Ore.) on Saturday. A defensive-minded team, the Lutes lead the league in blocks per game (3.9) and rank among the top three in scoring defense, opponent field goal percentage and opponent three-point percentage. Junior forward Leighton Kingma averages 16.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Junior guard Conor Geiger (10.6 ppg) is the team's best three-point shooter (45%). Whitworth swept PLU last winter, beginning with an 88-70 victory on the road. The Pirates had to rally from a 20-point, first half deficit to defeat the Lutes 81-69 at home. Whitworth has won the last 27 meetings between the schools.
One More SWX TV Game: The February 8th 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. 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-25 schools in NCAA DIII in several statistical categories:
5th in team field goal percentage – 52.7
8th in scoring offense – 93.7
19th in scoring margin - +15.3
24th in assists per game – 17.8
National Ranking: The Whitworth Pirates are ranked 6th in the latest (Jan. 14) D3hoops.com top-25 poll. The Bucs moved up one spot despite last Tuesday's setback to 4th-ranked Whitman. Whitworth has appeared in 156 D3hoops.com regular season polls and has been ranked in 55 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 328-60 (.845), an amazing run of success matched by few other college teams at any level. Within the Northwest Conference, Whitworth has won 151 of its last 164 (.919).
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 165-17 (.906) 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 87-17 (.836) away from home, 65-12 (.844) 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 1,403 points to rank 9th (tied) on the Pirates' all-time scoring list. He is averaging 17.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 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 with a career-high 37 points during the Pirates' 104-74 win over D'Youville on December 8th and he leads the Northwest Conference in scoring average at 21.5 points per game. Currently making 47.5% of his three-pointers, College ranks 10th in NCAA DIII in three-pointers made per game (3.87).
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 9.2 points and 9.9 rebounds (first 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 1,022 points and 875 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 11.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists (3rd in NWC) and 1.5 steals per game. His assist-to-turnover ratio is 1.82 (5th 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 7.5 points per contest while making 69.8% 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: 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 begin the second round of the Northwest Conference schedule with games at Pacific (Ore.) and Willamette next weekend (Jan. 25-26).
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.