Whitworth Hosts Linfield in NWC Semifinals

Whitworth Hosts Linfield in NWC Semifinals

SPOKANE, Wash. – The post-season is here for the 2018-19 Whitworth men's basketball team.  The 19th-ranked Pirates will host Linfield College on Thursday night at 7:00 pm in a Northwest Conference Tournament semifinal.  The game can be heard live in the Spokane area on KSBN 1230am and around the world 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 (20-5 overall, 12-4 NWC) split a pair of games in Tacoma last weekend to clinch a 14th straight 20-win season.  The Pirates had already secured second place in the Northwest Conference standings and the right to host a semifinal game the weekend prior.

Whitworth used a 15-0 run that spanned the end of the first half and the beginning of the second period to spark a 76-65 victory at Pacific Lutheran on Friday night.  The Pirates made 52% of their shots from the field despite struggling from three-point range (2-12, 17%).  After making only 11 of 27 shots in the first half, the Bucs made 17 of 27 shots after halftime.  Ben College led a balanced scoring effort with 14 points.  Jordan Lester and Ben Bishop scored 13 points apiece, while Kyle Roach finished with 11.  Lester led Whitworth with seven rebounds.  The Pirates picked up their 29th consecutive win over Pacific Lutheran. 

After taking an early 17-6 lead, the Pirates were unable to stop Puget Sound in an 87-72 loss in the regular season finale for both schools on Saturday night.  The Loggers ended a 23-game losing streak to Whitworth and clinched the 4th seed in this week's NWC tournament with the victory.  The Bucs were within 72-66 with seven minutes to play before Puget Sound closed the game on a 15-6 run.  Roach scored 24 points, while College finished with 16 and Lester added twelve.  Jared Christy grabbed 11 rebounds and Bishop blocked a career-high five shots.  Bishop finished the weekend with eight blocked shots. 

NWC Tournament Info: The Northwest Conference playoffs consist of a four-team tournament with semifinals on Thursday, Feb. 21.  As the #2 seed, Whitworth hosts #3 Linfield, while #4 Puget Sound travels to #1 Whitman.  The championship game is on Saturday, February 23 at the home of the highest remaining seed. While the 2018-19 Northwest Conference championship was decided by regular season play, the 2019 NWC playoffs will determine the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament.

Tickets for Thursday's game at Whitworth are $10 for adults and $5 for children (12 and under) and senior adults (60 and older).  Some reserved seats may still be available by calling 509-777-3224.  Remaining seats are all general admission and are available at the gate (no advanced sales).  Doors will open at 5:30 pm.

NWC Tournament History: The 2019 NWC tournament is the 23rd conference tournament since the NWC (then the NCIC) first began a league playoff in 1994.  This will be Whitworth's 22nd appearance, five ahead of Lewis & Clark for the conference's all-time lead. Heading into this week the Pirates are 26-8 all-time in the league playoffs. The Bucs have appeared in the championship game 16 times and have won 13 times, most recently in 2018. The league did not hold a tournament in 1999, 2004 and 2005. The only season the Bucs did not qualify is 2000.

This will be Linfield's ninth appearance in the NWC tournament.  The Wildcats also played in last season's tournament. They are 1-8 all-time in the league playoffs and looking for their first title.

The Opponents:  Linfield comes into Thursday's game with a record of 17-8.  The Wildcats finished 10-6 in the Northwest Conference after wins over George Fox (91-84) and Pacific (97-89) last week.  Linfield is efficient on offense, averaging 89.6 points per game and leading the league in assists per game (19.4).  On defense the Wildcats have allowed the fewest points per game this season (76.7 ppg) and lead the conference in opponents' field goal percentage (42.0).  Sophomore guard Dempsey Roggenbuck will garner plenty of All-Northwest Conference consideration as coaches cast votes this week.  He averages 18.3 points per game and makes 43% of his three-pointers.  Junior forward Grant Gibb, a transfer from Eastern Washington University, adds 12.2 points per game.  Senior guard Liam O'Reilly contributes 11.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per contest.  Whitworth has won the last 23 games in a row against Linfield, but the Pirates had to rally twice during the regular season to extend that streak.  On January 12th in McMinnville, Oregon, Whitworth outscored Linfield 9-3 over the final 2:45 to pull out a 78-75 victory behind 26 points from Ben College.  The Pirates made an even steeper climb on February 8th in Spokane, outscoring the Wildcats 11-1 over the final 3:44 to pull out a 74-73 win thanks to 21 points and 10 rebounds by Jared Christy and a game-winning basket by Isaiah Hernandez.

Making the List: Kyle Roach has made the Top-50 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 25 players on March 15, 2019.  The finalists will be named on April 6th and the winner will be announced on April 8th.

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 dropped seven spots to 19th in the latest (Feb. 18) D3hoops.com poll. Whitworth has appeared in 161 D3hoops.com regular season polls and has been ranked in 60 regular season polls in a row, currently the longest streak in Division III.  

Lucky 14:  With its win at Pacific Lutheran on February 15, 2019, Whitworth extended its school record for consecutive seasons with at least 20 victories to 14 in a row in 2018-19.  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 22, 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 335-63 (.842), an amazing run of success matched by few other college teams at any level.  Within the Northwest Conference, Whitworth has won 158 of its last 174 (.908).

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 170-17 (.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 89-20 (.817) away from home, 67-15 (.817) 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 1,589 points to rank fifth on the Pirates' all-time scoring list.  Roach is 81 points away from moving past David Riley (2008-11) into fourth place on the list.  He is averaging 17.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game in 2018-19. Roach scored a season-high 35 points in the win over George Fox on February 9th and 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 third in the Northwest Conference in scoring average at 20.2 points per game.  College ranks 9th in NCAA DIII in free throw percentage (92.2) and is currently making 42.5% of his three-pointers and 3.16 three-pointers per game.  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 1,174.

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 8.9 rebounds (third in the NWC) per game so far this year.  He has five double-doubles in 2018-19 and has 28 in his career.  Including his two seasons at PLU, Christy has totaled 1,126 points and 949 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 12.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.1 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 7.8 points per contest.  He ranks second in the Northwest Conference in field goal percentage (66.1).

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:  The winner of Thursday's game will advance to play the winner of the other semifinal between top-seeded Whitman and 4th-seeded Puget Sound on Saturday.  That game will be at 7:00 pm in the gym of the highest-remaining seed.     

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.