Missionary men weather Storm

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WALLA WALLA — Whitman’s Peter Clark drained a trey to give the Missionaries a 35-32 lead with 9:45 left in the first half.

Simpson would never overtake Whitman as the Missionaries won their eighth in a row with a 91-86 non-conference men’s basketball victory over the Storm of Indianola, Iowa.

“I’m proud of our guys,” Missionary coach Eric Bridgeland said. “To win eight in a row and stay focused. This week has been tough. All the students are gone, and Simpson is a really good basketball team.”

The Storm started with 2-0 lead with no time expired, as Elijah Knox made both technical (for dunking in warm-ups) free throws.

The Storm handled the Whitman press and shot efficiently as they built a 21-13 lead following a 3-point play from game-leading scorer Charles Swain with 14:40 left in the half. Swain finished with 31 points.

The Missionaries kept clawing back and grabbed their first lead following two Clark free throws at 28-27 with 10:53 left. Clark’s 3 a minute later put Whitman up for good.

Whitman’s relentless full-court press forced 16 Storm turnovers in the first 20 minutes and keyed the Missionaries to a 55-48 lead.

“That’s what we do,” Bridgeland said of his defense. “It was not our best, but we were in control the whole way.”

Simpson shot 53 percent from the floor and Whitman hit 46 percent in the high-scoring first half.

Whitman got 15 points from 6-foot, 10-inch post Ben Eisenhardt, 12 from Matt Mounier, and 10 from Josh Duckworth to take the 55-48 lead to intermission.

Both teams cooled off to start the second half. It took almost two minutes before Eisenhardt converted a Duckworth feed for a 57-48 Whitman lead with 18:15 left in the game.

The Storm crawled to within 65-60, but Duckworth answered with a deuce and Mounier knocked down consecutive treys as Whitman extended the lead to 73-60 with 11:58 to play.

The Storm did not go quietly as Swain drained a 3 to get Simpson within 90-86 with 5 seconds left. Mournier hit 1-of-2 free throws to ice this one as Whitman improved to 8-2 overall.

Whitman finished with four players in double digits. Clark had 10, Duckworth finished with 16 and four assists, Mounier hit four treys and scored 22, and Eisenhardt posted scored 29 and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.

“We have a lot of options within our offense,” Eisenhardt said. “Whatever five guys are on the floor, five guys can score. All season, it has been different people taking turns. Tonight, I just happened to be open a little bit.

“Our guards did a good job of finding me,” Eisenhardt added. “It’s my job, that when I get the ball that low (in the post), I need to score it. We’ve been working on rim finishes in practice, and I thought that showed up tonight.”

The Missionary defense just kept after the Storm baseline to baseline. Whitman forced 26 turnovers and pulled off 14 steals.

“We know we’ve got 12-15 guys that can play,” Eisenhardt said of the pressure defense. “If we can’t jump on a team right away, we know those last eight-10 minutes, we’re going to have an advantage.”

“He (Eisenhardt) can play,” Bridgeland said of his Bainbridge Island post. “He’s a division one player. When we get into trouble, we try and get him the ball. He’s so unselfish, there are times we have to tell him to be selfish. When we get him the ball good things happen. Not only that (offense), but he took four charges tonight. No one plays harder.”

Whitman hosts Hamline University Dec. 29, before returning to Northwest Conference play Jan. 4 to protect a 2-0 NWC start.

“We feel that we’ve finished one real strong semester,” Eisenhardt said. “We view every game as a big game, but we’re looking forward to conference come January.”

whitman 91, simpson 86

SIMPSON (86) SEmD Knox 6-11 2-3 15, Swain 11-22 6-8 31, Rotibi 1-5 0-0 2, Stumbo 1-2 0-0 2, Hennings 4-7 0-0 7, Jackson 0-0 0-0 0, Zimmerman 1-2 0-0 3, Bentley 1-5 0-0 2, Arrington 4-8 6-6 14, Lande 1-1 0-0 2, Stansbury 2-4 2-2 6. Totals 32-67 16-19 86.

WHITMAN (91) SEmD Mounier 7-22 4-5 22, Eisenhardt 13-21 3-4 29, Duckworth 8-14 0-0 16, Clark 3-5 2-2 10, Raher 2-6 0-0 4, Clough 1-3 3-6 5, Callahan 0-1 1-2 1, Lippi 0-2 2-3 2, Oti 1-3 0-0 2, Gilkey 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 35-78 15-22 91.

Halftime — Whitman 55, Simpson 48. 3-point goals — Simp 6-18 (Knox 1-1, Swain 3-8, Hennings 1-3, Zimmerman 1-2, Bentley 0-4), Whit 6-31 (Mounier 4-13, Eisenhardt 0-3, Duckworth 0-3, Clark 2-4, Raher 0-4, Callahan 0-1, Lippi 0-2, Oti 0-1). Total fouls — Simp 24, Whit 19. Fouled out — Simp (Hennings, Bentley). Technical fouls — Whit (bench). Rebounds — Simp 44 (Bentley 10), Whit 40 (Eisenhardt 11). Turnovers — Simp 26, Whit 16. Assists — Simp 15 (Knox 5), Whit 16 (Duckworth 4).

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