Whitman men's hoopsters rally from 17 down to top Portland Bible

The Missionary men fall behind by 17 points but rally to defeat Portland Bible 95-73 in tourney play at Sherwood Center Friday night.

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WALLA WALLA — It’s not how you start, but how you finish.


That sports adage certainly applied to the Whitman College men’s basketball team Friday night during the opening session of the Walla Walla Vineyard Inn/Bon Appetit Classic at George Ball Court in Sherwood Center.


The Missionaries trailed Portland Bible College 32-15 with 7:44 remaining in the first half, but rallied to tie the game at 44-44 by halftime.
They carried that momentum over into the second half and rode it to a convincing 95-73 triumph.


A quartet tallied double figures for Whitman led by the 17 points of Peter Clark. Brandon Shaw added 15 while Daniel Davidson and LuQuam Thompson scored 10 points apiece.


Portland Bible, less than 24 hours removed from a 99-84 loss at Central Washington on Thursday, looked like the fresher of the two teams in the first 12 minutes Friday night. The Wildcats blistered the nets at a 66-percent clip while fashioning their 17-point spread. Six-foot-10 center Michael Cooper had nine of his 11 first-half points during the surge.


It was all Whitman the remainder of the half — and game.


Thompson, a freshman, sparked a 29-12 run to end the opening period. He picked up eight points, including a driving bucket with five seconds on the clock, that drew the Missionaries even at intermission.


"It took a while," Whitman coach Eric Bridgeland said. "We were playing so hard, I was never worried. I’m glad we were still playing hard when we weren’t making shots.


"We have two freshmen starting and two others in the mix," Bridgeland said. "It took time to get comfortable, but we showed a lot of character for a young team."


A Justin Artis jumper just inside the free throw line at the 19:25 mark of half two gave Whitman its first lead of the game, 46-44, and commenced a 7-0 run to start the stanza. The Missionaries would build on the advantage the rest of the way.


An Artis three-point play with 14:46 left gave Whitman its first double-digit bulge of the game, 59-49.


The Missionaries’ lead would hit its peak when Shaw sank two free throws with nine seconds to go for the final points of the game.


"They had three legitimate all-conference guys," Bridgeland said of the Wildcats. "We had our hands full with them all night. They just kept battling."


Portland Bible shot a respectable 46.5 percent from the field, but only 33 percent (7-of-21) in the second half. The Wildcats also turned the ball over 26 times.


"We got a lot better defensively," Bridgeland said. "We saw some weaknesses on film after the Eastern Washington game (a 100-88 loss on Tuesday night). We move as a group. When one guy moves, we all move. We didn’t move as a group at Eastern."


In another men’s contest played Friday night, William Jessup upended Lewis Clark, 84-80, in overtime.


The four-team classic ended Saturday with Whitman playing William Jessup and Lewis Clark taking on Portland Bible.

PORTLAND BIBLE (73) — McCall 4-11 11-11 19, Hodges 1-5 6-7 8, Coleman 1-3 0-0 2, Rivera 1-4 3-4 5, Cooper 7-9 3-5 17, Mahan 2-6 2-2 6, Swink 2-3 6-8 10, Cochran 2-2 2-2 6. Totals 20-43 33-39 73.
WHITMAN (95) — Shaw 4-7 7-7 15, Davidson 4-10 2-4 10, Artis 4-6 1-1 9, Thompson 5-14 0-3 10, Clark 5-15 2-2 17, Wheeler 1-2 2-4 5, Michaels 1-2 7-8 9, Alvarez 0-1 0-0 0, Adcox 0-3 0-0 0, Brent 4-9 0-0 9, Brandon 1-1 0-0 2, Raher 4-7 1-2 9. Totals 33-77 22-31 95.
Halftime — Tied at 44. 3-point goals — Portland Bible (no attempts), Whitman 7-26 (Clark 5-13, Wheeler 1-1, Brent 1-4, Shaw 0-1, Artis 0-1, Alvarez 0-1, Adcox 0-2, Thompson 0-3). Total fouls — Portland Bible 25, Whitman 33. Fouled out — Portland Bible (Coleman), Whitman (Artis, Raher). Technical fouls — none. Rebounds — Portland Bible 33 (McCall 7), Whitman 48 (Thompson 6). Turnovers — Portland Bible 26, Whitman 15. Assists — Portland Bible 10 (McCall 5), Whitman 14 (Thompson 4).

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