FOREST GROVE, Ore. - After rampaging for 16 wins in its 18 previous games, including a dramatic victory over No. 1-ranked Whitworth on Tuesday, the Whitman College men's basketball team ran into a speed bump Friday night, dropping its regular-season finale 59-55 to lowly Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore.
The loss may have cost the Missionaries a chance to host a first-round Northwest Conference playoff game next Thursday.
Whitman, now 17-8 on the season, slipped into third place in NWC with an 11-5 record.
Lewis & Clark, which completes its regular season Saturday night at Willamette, got past Puget Sound 89-85 in overtime tonight to assume sole possession of second place with an 11-4 NWC record (18-6 overall).
If it beats Willamette (6-18, 3-12 NWC) tomorrow night, Lewis & Clark gets the No. 2 playoff seed and hosts Whitman next Thursday.
If it loses at Willamette, Lewis & Clark will finish the season tied for second with Whitman. The tie-breaker between the two schools favors Whitman, which means the Missionaries would host Thursday's playoff game.
Whitworth, which clinched the regular season title a few weeks ago but lost its first game of the season to Whitman on Tuesday, will host Pacific Lutheran, the No. 4 seed, in Thursday's other playoff game.
First-round winners play next Saturday at the highest remaining seed for the NWC's automatic berth in the NCAA Division III national championship field.
Pacific, now 4-20 on the season and 3-12 in the NWC, ends its season Saturday by hosting Whitworth.
Whitman, which rolled over Pacific 94-65 earlier this season in Walla Walla, could have nailed down the first-round home playoff game by beating the Boxers a second time.
The Missionaries led by as many as six points midway through the first half, but Pacific turned the tables and held a five-point advantage with 1:13 left before intermission.
Junior David Michaels struck for four points and freshman Josh Duckworth added a jumper to trim Whitman's deficit to 26-25 at the break.
Early in the second half, Whitman pulled even at 29-29 on a free throw by junior Brandon Shaw and then inched ahead 32-31 when freshman Ryan Gilkey completed a three-point play in the paint.
Layups by Michaels and Shaw twice gave the Missionaries a three-point lead, the last time at 36-33 with 12:35 left on the clock.
Gilkey's second three-point play (basket and free throw) had Whitman in front 40-38 with 8:17 remaining. Pacific responded with the next three baskets, one from the 3-point line, over the next few minutes to vault into a 45-40 lead.
Whitman drew within four points on two occasions, once on Duckworth's jumper with 4:55 left and once on a Michaels layup at the 2:39 mark. But the Boxers collected the next two hoops and stretched its lead to nine points, 55-46, with a minute left.
The Missionaries made a final charge. After Michaels scored inside, a Pacific turnover led to a Duckworth 3-pointer that again had Whitman within four at 55-51 with 44 seconds still left on the clock.
The next two Pacific possessions ended with a missed free throw and a turnover, but Whitman was unable to capitalize, missing a three-point try and committing a turnover of its own.
Michaels, making eight of 11 shots from the floor and three of four free throws, logged his second double-double of the season with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Duckworth added 10 points while sophomore Ignas Pavilonis had eight points and five rebounds.
Gilkey and Shaw finished with seven points apiece.
Pacific 59, Whitman 55
WHITMAN (55) - Michaels 8-11 3-4 19, Clark 0-3 0-0 0, Raher 0-3 3-4 3, Shaw 3-7 1-2 7, Artis 0-2 1-2 1, Dickson 0-1 0-0 0, Duckworth 4-10 1-4 10, Pavilonis 3-8 0-0 8, Wright 0-0 0-0 0, Gilkey 2-2 3-4 7. Totals 20-47 12-20 55.
PACIFIC (59) - Anglin 7-9 5-8 19, Mosley 3-7 0-0 7, Bartlett 5-9 4-8 14, Wester 4-10 2-3 13, Beatty 3-11 0-1 6, Hayes 0-0 0-2 0, Babek 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-47 11-22 59.
Halftime score - Pacific 26, Whitman 25. 3-point goals - Whit 3 (Duckworth, Pavilonis 2), Pac 4 (Wester 3, Mosley). Total fouls - Whit 18, Pac 17. Fouled out - none. Technical fouls - none. Rebounds - Whit 31 (Michaels 10), Pac 31 (Anglin 9, Mosely 9). Turnovers - Whit 8, Pac 10. Assists - Whit 4 (Clark 3), Pac 11 (Wester 4).