COLLEGE BASKETBALL - Whitman men nudged by Northwest in tourney game

Northwest tops the Missionaries 88-79 on the final day of the Vineyard Inn Classic.

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WALLA WALLA - Whitman's men's basketball team rallied from a 14-point, second-half deficit - twice drawing to within one point in the closing minutes Saturday night - but visiting Northwest University closed with a 16-8 run during an 88-79 victory in the final game of the annual Walla Walla Vineyard Inn Classic on George Ball Court at Sherwood Center.

The Eagles, ranked No. 16 in the NAIA Division II preseason poll and who were without leading scorer Jordan Call due to illness, improved to 5-1 on the season and dropped the Missionaries to 2-2.

"Northwest played well enough to win," Whitman coach Eric Bridgeland said. "We're still figuring out who we are and who to put where (due to a lack of team experience)."

"This was a good win," Northwest coach John Van Dyke said. "Whitman is a very good team (and) plays exceptionally hard. They're going to be just fine."

In another Classic game played Saturday Eastern Oregon, No. 18 in the aforementioned rankings, improved to 8-1 by toppling Pacific Lutheran, 81-67.

Northwest took 3-0 and 5-2 leads before the Missionaries scored the next five points to assume their only advantage of the night, 7-5, on a Justin Artis runner at the 14:15 mark of half one.

The Eagles used a Tyler Mendezona free throw and Michael Greene bucket to take the lead for good, 8-7, just 46 seconds later.

Northwest stretched its lead to 11, 37-26, by halftime.

The spread grew to 14, 52-38, on a pair of Ahmaad Cook free throws with 14:46 left.

Whitman whittled away at the deficit over the next 12-and-a-half minutes. Drew Raher followed a Missionary miss with 3:16 to go to bring the score to 70-69.

After a lay-in by Northwest's Tyson Christie, Raher again tallied in the low block to make it 72-71.

The Eagles responded with 3s on their next two possessions - one by Daley Landon and another by Christie - to establish a seven-point margin, 78-71, with 1:30 remaining.

Northwest clinched the triumph by making 8-of-10 charity tosses in the final 1:07 of play.

"We finished well," Van Dyke said. "We were getting big stops on the defensive end and hit 3s at big times."

Rich Skillman led Northwest with 16 points.

Whitman's Brandon Shaw led all scorers with 19 points. Josh Duckworth added 15, Ryan Gilkey had 13 and Raher scored 11 points for the home team.

The Missionaries open Northwest Conference play Friday at Linfield.

NORTHWEST (88) - Cook 3-6 2-2 9, Richardson 1-2 3-5 5, Skillman 5-10 5-7 16, Landon 3-10 4-4 13, Mendezona 0-1 2-5 2, Christie 5-8 1-2 13, Greene 2-2 0-0 4, Peters 5-10 4-5 14, George 5-11 2-6 12. Totals 29-60 23-26 88.

WHITMAN (79) - Shaw 9-15 1-3 19, Artis 1-6 4-4 6, Clark 0-9 0-0 0, Raher 4-8 2-3 11, Gilkey 5-10 3-3 13, Dickson 0-0 0-0 0, Duckworth 7-13 0-0 15, Pavilonis 2-5 0-0 5, Michaels 0-0 4-6 4, Guisness 0-0 0-0 0, Brent 2-5 0-1 6. Totals 30-71 14-20 79.

Halftime Score - Northwest 37, Whitman 26.

3-point goals - Northwest 7-20 (Landon 3-9, Christie 2-3, Cook 1-2, Skillman 1-4, Richardson 0-1, Peters 0-1), Whitman 5-31 (Brent 2-5, Pavilonis 1-2, Duckworth 1-4, Raher 1-5, Shaw 0-3, Artis 0-4, Clark 0-8). Total fouls-Northwest 17, Whitman 25. Fouled out- Whitman (Artis). Technical fouls-Whitman (bench). Rebounds- Northwest 42 (Christie 8), Whitman 49 (Raher 9). Turnovers-Northwest 19, Whitman 25. Assists- Northwest 14 (Christie 5), Whitman 10 (Shaw 4).

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