Juniors lead Whitman past Bruins on Senior Night

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WALLA WALLA — On a night when Whitman honored four senior men’s basketball players prior to their final regular-season home game on George Ball Court at Sherwood Center, a pair of juniors provided the Missionaries’ offensive firepower.

Josh Duckworth scored 30 points on 11-of-13 shooting from the field and Ben Eisenhardt added 29 on Friday night to help lead the Missionaries to a 93-77 Northwest Conference victory over George Fox.

Whitman improved to 10-4 in the NWC and 16-7 overall. The win guaranteed the Missionaries no less than the No. 2 seed for the upcoming conference playoffs later this month.

The four seniors on this year’s Missionary roster — forwards Ignas Pavilonis, Drew Raher, and Ryan Gilkey, along with wing Peter Clark — received standing ovations from a loud and overwhelmingly partisan crowd, both during pre-game ceremonies and when they exited play late in the second half of Friday’s contest. The group is Whitman’s winningest senior class in the program’s 88-year history.

“It was all about the seniors,” Whitman coach Eric Bridgeland said. “It was all about sending our seniors off with a great effort. I’m proud of them.”

A 12-0 Missionary run in the early stages of the game established a 13-4 Whitman lead by the 15:45 mark of the opening half. Duckworth, who did not play in Whitman’s home victory over Whitworth on Tuesday due to illness, commenced the blitz by draining a 3-point field goal. He added a steal and dunk moments later, Raher stroked a trey from the left wing, and Eisenhardt contributed a tip-in and short jumper.

“It was nice to have Josh back,” Bridgeland said. “He was great from the get-go.”

The Bruins, 8-5 in league and 13-9 overall prior to a Saturday night matchup at Whitworth, closed to within four, 20-16, on a Matt Zandbergen lay-in with 11:34 on the clock.

But an 8-0 Whitman surge followed and resulted in a 12-point spread, 28-16, by the 9:55 mark. Clark and Raher buried back-to-back 3s and Eisenhardt added a deuce.

A fading jumper by Duckworth with 5:41 on the clock gave the Missionaries a 38-23 lead.

Eisenhardt equaled the 15-point margin on a putback with 9.6 seconds left and Whitman went to halftime with a 50-35 advantage.

Clark scored in transition with 1:47 gone in the second half to provide the Missionaries with their biggest cushion of the night, 55-39.

George Fox closed to within six, 58-52, on a Sean Atkins’ 3 with 14:13 remaining in the game that ended a 13-3 Bruins’ blitz.

But spurts of 6-0 and 7-0 over the next five minutes-plus helped push Whitman’s lead to 15, 73-58, with 9:06 to play.

Whitman led by 16, 78-62, after two Eisenhardt free throws with 7:57 left.

The Bruins got no closer than 11 points the rest of the way.

Clark and Gilkey joined Duckworth and Eisenhardt in double figures with 10 points apiece.

Both teams prospered from the floor. George Fox shot 58 percent (32-of-55) while Whitman put up a 55-percent performance (32-of-58).

“George Fox is good,” Bridgeland said. “They are tough to play. It was not an easy game. We might see them two weeks from now.”

The Missionaries end the regular season on the road next weekend. They play at Willamette on Friday and Linfield on Saturday.

WHITMAN 93, GEORGE FOX 77

GEORGE FOX (77) — Sanchez 4-8 4-6 12, Grant 3-5 1-2 7, Brent 2-4 0-0 4, Atkins 10-13 2-2 24, Adrian 4-7 0-0 8, Garlington 1-1 0-1 2, Ramey 0-1 1-1 1, Martin 2-4 0-0 5, Bolte 5-11 2-2 12, Zandbergen 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 32-55 10-14 77.

WHITMAN (93) — Duckworth 11-13 5-6 30, Pavilonis 0-2 0-0 0, Clark 4-4 0-0 10, Raher 2-5 0-0 6, Gilkey 2-5 6-7 10, Mounier 0-4 4-4 4, Eisenhardt 12-18 5-8 29, Gagliardi 0-1 0-0 0, Clough 0-3 1-2 1, Callahan 0-0 0-0 0, Lippi 1-3 1-2 3, Chircu 0-0 0-0 0, Oti 0-0 0-0 0, Durham 0-0 0-0 0, Outzen 0-0 0-0 0, Martin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 32-58 22-29 93.

Halftime score — Whitman 50-35. 3-point goals — George Fox 3-15 (Atkins 2-3, Martin 1-3, Adrian 0-1, Ramey 0-1, Grant 0-2, Brent 0-2, Sanchez 0-3), Whitman 7-16 (Duckworth 3-4, Clark 2-2, Raher 2-2, Pavilonis 0-2, Clough 0-2, Mounier 0-4). Total fouls—George Fox 21, Whitman 19. Fouled out— George Fox (Atkins), Whitman (Gilkey). Technical fouls—none. Rebounds— George Fox 20 (Brent 4, Bolte 4), Whitman 39 (Lippi 6). Turnovers—George Fox 16, Whitman 11. Assists— George Fox 7 (Sanchez 2, Grant 2, Bolte 2), Whitman 8 (Duckworth 2, Raher 2).

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