Sports


Whitworth wins conference tourney

SUNDAY, FEB. 28, 2010

Pirates men finish unbeaten NWC season

Balance, both physically and mentally, has been the key to Whitworth University’s wildly successful men’s basketball season.

And it was on display once again at Whitworth Fieldhouse on Saturday night, as the Pirates dusted off George Fox 97-75 in the championship game of the Northwest Conference tournament and earned the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Division III tournament, which starts next week.

Senior forward Bo Gregg scored 21 points and four other players – including junior Clay Gebbers, who tossed in a career-high 17 – finished in double figures as the fifth-ranked Bucs (25-2, 16-0) ran their school record winning streak to 24 games and became the first NWC team to go undefeated during the regular season and then win the conference tournament.

A crowd of 1,590 was on hand to witness history as Whitworth also assured itself of having the highest winning percentage in school history and moved within a single victory of equaling the single-season school record of 26 wins set by the 1996 team that finished 26-5 after losing in the championship game of the NAIA Division II tournament.

“We’ve gotten by on balance all year,” Whitworth coach Jim Hayford said, “and that starts with emotional balance – not getting too high or too low. And, obviously, we’ve had scoring balance, as well, with all the guys we have who can make 3s and our ability to score on the block, off the jump shot and off the dribble.”

The Bucs shot 52.4 percent (33-63) from the field, and knocked down 17 of 31 attempts from 3-point range to equal the single-game school record set by that 1996 team.

Along with the offensive contributions of Gregg and Clay Gebbers, Whitworth also got 19 points, five assists and five steals from senior point guard Eric Beal, 16 points and nine rebounds from senior center Nate Montgomery, and 14 points and two assists from freshman guard Wade Gebbers.

But it was the all-around play of Clay Gebbers that drew most of Hayford’s praise, after the 6-foot-1 junior shooting guard and defensive whiz stuffed the stat sheet with five rebounds, three assists and three steals.

“I just wish our conference had an award for the top defensive players, because Clay would have won it,” Hayford said. “His role all season long as been to guard the opponent’s best player, and he’s managed to make life miserable for people night in and night out.”

George Fox (13-14, 9-7), which played Whitworth as close as any NWC team during the regular season, looked overmatched on this night, despite getting a game-high 25 points from Alex Stockner.

Whitworth must now wait until Monday morning to learn where it will be placed in the 62-team tournament field. There is a chance the Pirates could get a favorable tournament seed, a first-round bye and the opportunity to host an early-round game.

Whitworth 97, George Fox 75

 George Fox (13-14, 9-7)- Atwater 4-8 1-2 10, Stockner 8-16 4-6 25, Smith 3-3 0-0 7, Wiseley 2-8 0-0 5, Martin 4-9 5-5 14, Rier 0-0 0-0 0, Lingenfelder 0-1 0-0 0, Adrian 1-1 0-0 2, Whitehurst 0-1 3-5 3, Vahalla 1-3 2-2 5, Toedtemeier 1-3 0-0 2, Griffiths 0-0 2-2 2, Reimer 0-1 0-0 0, Zandbergen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-54 17-22 75.

Whitworth (25-2, 16-0)- Gregg 7-11 4-4 21, Montgomery 6-11 4-4 16, Friedt 0-1 0-0 0, Riley 2-7 0-0 5, Beal 6-11 2-3 19, Iddins 0-0 0-0 0, W. Gebbers 4-4 2-2 14, Ramey 0-3 0-0 0, C. Gebbers 6-8 2-2 17, Odland 0-1 0-0 0, Larkin 1-1 0-0 2, Loofburrow 1-5 0-0 3. Totals 33-63 14-15 97.

Halftime—Whitworth 50, George Fox 34. 3-Point Goals—George Fox 10-27 (Stockner 5-9, Martin 1-5, Atwater 1-4, Wiseley 1-4, Vahalla 1-1, Smith 1-1, Toedtemeier 0-2, Lingenfelder 0-1), Whitworth 17-31 (Beal 5-8, W. Gebbers 4-4, Gregg 3-6, C. Gebbers 3-4, Loofburrow 1-4, Riley 1-3, Ramey 0-2). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—George Fox 31 (Stockner, Martin 5), Whitworth 32 (Montgomery 9). Assists—George Fox 13 (Martin 6), Whitworth 19 (Beal 5). Total Fouls—George Fox 16, Whitworth 17. A—1,590.


 

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