SAN JOSE, Calif. - Hitting 18 3-pointers, the Whitman College men's basketball team outscored NCAA Division I San Jose State in the second half - pulling to within nine points with five minutes left to play - before the Spartans finished off a 109-92 exhibition victory Saturday afternoon in San Jose, Calif.
"Our guys played Whitman basketball in the second half," Whitman coach Eric Bridgeland said. "Defensively we were able to get some stops and push it in transition and get some good shots at the rim and open looks for our shooters."
Trailing by 15 with 7:46 left in the game, senior guard Justin Artis nailed a 3-pointer to spark a Whitman surge.
After freshman Josh Duckworth took the ball to the hoop for two, junior big man David Michaels hit a pair of free throws and added a 3-point play in the paint.
With just over five minutes left on the clock, Michaels fed 6-foot-7 freshman Seth Brent for a three that cut San Jose's lead to 91-82.
After a defensive stop, the Missionaries misfired on a layin that would have cut the deficit to seven points. A Whitman 3-point try failed to drop with 3:43 on the clock that again would have closed the gap to seven.
The Spartans countered with a basket and two free throws, but sophomore Peter Clark hit his seventh 3-pointer of the night at the 2:43 mark to keep the Missionaries within reach at 98-87.
San Jose responded with the next three baskets to pull away.
"To come back from that halftime deficit and make it a game in this environment was a tribute to our guys and their togetherness," Bridgeland said. "If we had not lost a couple of key players to fouls in the middle of the half, we might have had enough to pull it off. It's not how you start, but how you finish that counts. Proud of our guys."
The Spartans jumped to a 9-0 lead at the outset, but two threes from Clark and another long ball from freshman Jordan Dickson slashed the home team's early cushion to 12-9.
Whitman trailed 29-20 midway through the half after Duckworth converted two free throws. San Jose's offense began to sizzle at that point, launching the Spartans to a 61-36 lead at the break.
Despite San Jose's offensive fireworks, Bridgeland wasn't disappointed in his squad's first-half defensive efforts.
"We contested virtually every shot, but (Adrian) Oliver and (Keith) Shamburger were too good in the first half," Bridgeland said. "San Jose is going to have a great season. Their guard play is very very good."
The Missionaries opened the second half on a 9-2 spurt to start its comeback. After sophomore Brandon Shaw hit a 3-pointer to start the run, Clark and sophomore Ignas Pavilonis added two more strikes from the 3-point stripe.
A string of three more trifectas, two from Clark and one from Pavilonis, pulled Whitman to within 74-61 with 11:27 left, and the Spartans had their hands full with the NCAA Division III Missionaries the rest of the way.
Clark, who led the Northwest Conference in 3-point shooting last season as a freshman, hit seven of his nine 3-point shots to pace the Missionaries with 21 points. As a team, Whitman was 18 of 35 from long range.
"Overall we can shoot the ball," Bridgeland said. "Tonight was another example of that.
"Individually, Peter can shoot it with anybody. He took advantage of the defensive helping on our guards and bigs and made them pay."
Duckworth added 16 points, making eight of 11 at the free throw line. He also picked off five steals - Whitman harrassed San Jose into 19 turnovers - and handed out four assists.
"Josh really carried us with Brandon (Shaw) in foul trouble," Bridgeland said. "A lot of perseverance for a freshman in this environment."
Whitman also got 10 points apiece from Artis, Micheals and Brent, and nine points from Pavilonis.
"I'm proud of Seth (Brent)," Bridgeland said. "He's been battling a wicked ankle injury this fall and has had limited practice. You wouldn't have known that today. Not only did he knock down big shots in the second half, he also got to the glass for us."
Both Shaw and sophomore Drew Rahar played limited minutes before fouling out.
Ryan Gilkey, a 6-foot-7 first-year sophomore, made his injury-delayed college debut but also played limited minutes due to foul trouble. He had two points and four assists before fouling out.
"We've waited 14 months to see what Gilk could do out there and he didn't disappoint," Bridgeland said. "Gilk's presence in the paint in the second half was the primary reason they only shot 42 percent."
Whitman opens its season on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 19-20, in Portland, Ore., with games against Multnomah Bible College and Portland Bible College.
The Missionaries play their home openers when they host the Walla Walla Vineyard Inn Classic Nov. 26-27.
WHITMAN (92) - Pavilonis 3-12 0-0 9, Michaels 3-3 3-4 10, Clark 7-10 0-0 21, Shaw 2-6 0-0 5, Artis 2-9 4-4 10, Dickson 1-1 0-0 3, Duckworth 4-15 8-11 16, Alvarez 0-1 0-2 0, Guisness 0-0 0-0 0, Brent 3-4 1-2 10, Thompson 0-1 0-0 0, Raher 2-4 2-2 6, Gilkey 1-1 0-0 2.
SAN JOSE ST. (109) - Carter 3-6 10-10 16, Ballard 0-0 0-0 0, Shamburger 9-13 7-8 30, Oliver 8-18 7-8 24, Graham 4-7 10-16 18, Moor 0-0 0-0 0, Douglas 6-10 0-1 14, Jones 2-6 2-2 7, Henson 0-0 0-0 0, Ton 0-0 0-0 0.
Halftime score - San Jose St. 61, Whitman 36. 3-point goals - Whit 18-35 (Pavilonis 3-12, Michaels 1-1, Clark 7-9, Shaw 1-1, Artis 2-4, Dickson 1-1, Alvarez 0-1, Brent 3-4, Thompson 0-1, Raher 0-1). Total fouls- Whit 31, San Jose St. 24. Fouled out-Whit (Shaw, Raher, Gilkey), San Jose St. (Oliver). Technical fouls-none. Rebounds- Whit 28 (Artis 4), San Jose St. (43 (Oliver 10). Turnovers-Whit 14, San Jose St. 19. Assists-Whit 18 (Duckworth 4, Gilkey 4), San Jose St. 18 (Graham 8).