Whitman ends Pirates’ win streak
On a night when they lost their shooting touch, losing their top scorer and rebounder as well was too much for the Whitworth Pirates men’s basketball team.
Whitman turned up the pressure on both ends of the court Tuesday night, stunning Whitworth 77-66 and ending the Pirates’ 22-game homecourt win streak in Northwest Conference play.
The Pirates hadn’t lost a Northwest Conference game at home since an 81-71 defeat against Puget Sound in February 2009 and had won 44 of their previous 45 home games overall.
Turning this game into a horse race may do the same to the conference race; the loss leaves Whitworth (13-3, 6-1 NWC) just a game ahead of Whitman (12-4, 5-2), George Fox and Pacific Lutheran.
The Missionaries hadn’t won in Spokane since 1986.
The Pirates led most of the way, but the game turned early in the second half when leading scorer and rebounder Felix Friedt picked up his third foul and Whitman took the lead for good. Friedt returned for just a moment before picking up his fourth, and fouled out with 3:32 left.
Friedt played only four minutes in the second half and finished with nine points and two rebounds.
Stymied inside by the absence of Friedt, the Pirates were also missing their shooting touch for the third time in as many games. They hit just 5 of 27 shots from 3-point range, and this time it cost them.
“I think obviously we’d like to have Felix on the floor,” Whitworth coach Matt Logie said, “and we have to ultimately find ways to find good, high-percentage shots when he’s not in the ballgame.”
Worse for the Pirates, they began to struggle against the Missionairies’ pressing defense. At the other end, Whitman’s David Michaels victimized the Pirates inside and out, hitting two big 3-point shots. The first, with 5:13 left, put Whitman ahead for good at 61-58.
A minute later, Michaels got the ball again, was fouled by Whitworth’s Idris Lasisi and made three foul shots. Forty seconds after that, he hit another 3 at the top of the key and the Missionaries were almost home free at 67-58 with 3:54 left.
Michaels led the winners with 26 points and five rebounds.
Whitworth guard Wade Gebbers led the Pirates with 22 and hit a long 3-pointer with 2:49 that kept the Pirates alive at 70-64, but Whitman pulled away at the foul line. The Missionaries hit 19 of 22 free-throw attempts.
Six of the Pirates’ last nine regular-season games will be on the road, beginning with a Friday contest at Willamette.