Whitworth debuts its No. 6 men’s Division III national ranking at home tonight against its most anticipated opponent.
Boasting a 12-game win streak and sole possession of first-place in the Northwest Conference, the Pirates (12-1, 4-0 NWC) play host to the team their fans keep the closest eye on: Whitman (9-4, 3-1).
Tip-off is at 8 p.m.
Whitworth fans can’t help but keep an eye on the Missionaries, who were picked to finish second in the preseason poll of conference men’s basketball coaches. The schedule both demands it and lends itself to side-by-side comparisons against common opponents.
When D-III schools look to make a swing through the Inland Northwest, they typically schedule a game in Walla Walla, a day off, then a game at Whitworth, athletics director Aaron Leetch explained last week.
“That way they’re close to the airport for the flight home,” he said.
Already this season, the two schools have shared non-conference games with No. 3 St. Thomas, Mary Hardin-Baylor, California-Santa Cruz, Simpson and Hamline.
Until Friday, tonight’s game shaped up to be a first-place showdown, but the Missionaries stumbled in Portland against Lewis & Clark, losing 88-84.
Whitworth swept its two games in Oregon last weekend.
Mead’s Taylor Farnsworth had the most points by a Pirate in a single game this season. The sophomore post scored a career-high 29 points (a game after posting a then-career-high 16 in the win over Hamline) as the Bucs held off a Pacific comeback Friday, 80-77. Richland guard Colton McCargar came off the bench to score a career-high 18 points in a 78-66 win over LC’s Pioneers.
Six Pirates have taken turns leading the offense, and freshman George Valle and Farnsworth are the only Bucs to lead the scoring in consecutive games. Valle led the offense in three straight wins: Montana Tech, Santa Cruz and Pacific Lutheran.
Six different players have led the team in scoring through the first 13 games this season.