SPOKANE - Whitworth broke open a close game with a pair of second-half scoring sprees and downed Whitman College 74-50 in the Northwest Conference playoff championship game here Saturday night.
Whitworth, improving to 26-1 on the season, gets the NWC's automatic berth in the NCAA Division III national championship field.
Whitman, now 19-8 and ranked No. 7 in the West Region, must wait until Monday morning to see if it gets an at-large berth in the national championships.
After defense dominated a first half that ended in a 26-26 tie, the two sides deadlocked again at 33-33 three minutes into the second half. That's when the Pirates used a 9-0 two-minute run to take the lead.
Ahead 53-42 midway with 10 minutes left to play, Whitworth reeled off eight straight points to the break the game open, extending its lead to 17 points with just under eight minutes remaining.
Whitman, which handed Whitworth its only loss of the season earlier this month in Walla Walla, got 11 points apiece from junior Brandon Shaw and senior Justin Artis.
Freshman Josh Duckworth added 10 points while junior David Michaels snared 10 rebounds.
Sophomore Ignas Pavilonis collected seven rebounds and Shaw pulled down six. Whitman outrebounded the Pirates 42-36.
Senior Mike Taylor led Whitworth with 24 points. Felix Friedt posted a double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
The Pirates also got 15 points from Wade Gebbers and 10 more from David Riley.
The first half, played at a fever pitch, was a defensive dogfight that saw both sides take brief leads of five points before they deadlocked at 26-26 at the break.
Whitman outfought the home team on the backboards, working its way to a 27-21 rebounding edge. The Missionaries hit just 30.3 percent (10-33 fg) of their shots from the floor in the first half, just a bit more accurate that the Pirates (9-31, 29 percent).
Whitworth compensated by draining six 3-pointers, twice as many as Whitman.
Artis, who knocked 3-pointers from both corners, had eight points by halftime to pace the Missionary scoring. Shaw had seven points, four rebounds and two steals in the first 20 minutes.
Taylor had 13 points in the first half for Whitworth.
Whitworth 74, Whitman 50
WHITMAN (50) - Clark 0-7 0-0 0, Raher 1-3 0-1 2, Michaels 1-4 2-2 5, Shaw 5-13 1-2 11, Artis 4-7 0-2 11, Dickson 0-0 0-0 0, Duckworth 3-15 4-6 10, Pavilonis 2-6 0-0 5, Alvarez 0-0 0-0 0, Gilkey 2-3 2-4 6. Totals 18-58 9-17 50.
WHITWORTH (74) - Taylor 9-17 4-4 24, Riley 4-12 0-1 10, Friedt 6-8 4-4 16, W. Gebbers 4-8 4-4 15, C. Gebbers 0-2 1-2 1, Ramey 1-2 0-0 3, McCargar 0-1 0-0 0, Larkin 0-0 0-0 0, Loofburrow 2-9 0-0 5. Totals 26-59 13-15 74.
Halftime score - Tied at 26. 3-point goals - Whitman 5-18 (Artis 3-4, Michaels 1-1, Pavilonis 1-3, Duckworth 0-2), Whitworth 9-24 (W. Gebbers 3-6, Taylor 2-3, Riley 2-5, Ramey 1-2, Loofburrow 1-5, McCargar 0-1, C. Gebbers 0-2). Total fouls- Whitman 19, Whitworth 18. Fouled out-Whitman (Michaels). Technical fouls-none. Rebounds- Whitman 47 (Michaels 10), Whitworth 36 (Friedt 11). Turnovers-Whitman 14, Whitworth 8. Assists-Whitman 7 (Raher 3), Whitworth 10 (W. Gebbers 5).
Missionaries named to All-NWC team
WALLA WALLA - Whitman College junior Brandon Shaw was named to the First Team and freshman teammate Josh Duckworth netted Honorable Mention recognition when the All-Northwest Conference men's basketball team was announced Friday.
Shaw, a 6-foot-2 guard, led Whitman in scoring for a second straight season, averaging 14.4 points per game, and topped the NWC in steals for the second time in two seasons.
Duckworth, also a 6-2 guard, was Whitman's second-leading scorer this season, averaging 12.6 points per game. He also averaged 3.4 rebounds and was second to Shaw in assists and steals.
Shaw, who earned Honorable Mention recognition a year ago, shot 49.8 percent from the floor this winter while canning 72.1 percent (124-of-172) of his free throws. Only two players in the conference made more free throws.
He led the NWC in steals, averaging 1.88 per game, and was fourth in assists at 3.54 per game. He also averaged four rebounds from his guard spot.
Duckworth shot 46.7 percent from the floor for the season, which included a 40.7 percentage (17-42) from the 3-point line. In 16 NWC games, he made 13 of 22 (59.1 percent) 3-point shots.
Duckworth was named NWC Player of the Week in mid-February after he averaged 19.5 points in two Whitman victories. He made 15 of 23 shots from the floor in those two games, including four of five tries from the 3-point line.