Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 8
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Men’s basketball falls to Eastern Washington

Whitman men’s basketball team opened their season Tuesday, Nov. 17, with a 100-88 loss to the NCAA Division I Eastern Washington University Eagles. However, despite the loss, there were quite a few bright spots for the Missionaries.

Sophomore Brandon Shaw led all scorers with 24 points. Shaw also contributed seven steals and four assists as he repeatedly broke down the players charged with guarding him, weaving through an EWU team that was heavy on fouls and light players. The Eagles were only able to suit up eight for their third game in four days.

The Missionaries were able to frustrate their Division I opponents with their swarming full court press that led to 30 turnovers for the Eagles, one shy of a school record. However, Whitman turned the ball over 19 times themselves, which added to the rather disjointed nature of a game where 56 total fouls were called.

The press requires 40 minutes of hustle from the Missionaries, and several Whitman players seemed to thrive in this hectic environment. First-year Drew Raher helped to keep Whitman close in a game in which they were physically overmatched, contributing 12 points and five rebounds in only 15 minutes of game time before fouling out.

Eastern Washington’s Head Coach Kirk Earlywine commented on the Missionaries press.

“They play a style that is probably not conducive to Division I, but it’s very effective at their level and for their team,” he said of the NCAA Division III Missionaries. “When you don’t have size and you are playing teams that do, you want to scramble the game. You want to make guys that aren’t necessarily ball handlers handle the ball and pass the ball in awkward spots.”

However, Whitman’s grit and hustle could not overcome the Eagles size and strength; the Missionaries were out-rebounded 54-35 as two Eastern Washington players, 6’9” center Brandon Moore and 6’3” guard Alden Gibbs combined for 30 rebounds by themselves. The deficit on the boards was compounded by Whitman’s inability to make three point field goals as they shot only 17 percent from beyond the arc. Small teams that are physically overmatched usually live or die by the three, and on Tuesday poor long-range shooting sank the Missionaries.

Despite the loss. Missionary Head Coach Eric Bridgeland was optimistic about his team’s performance.

“We were pleased with our effort but not the outcome. [We] put up 88 points on a [NCAA Division I] team without one of our starters, [senior Jordan Wheeler] and made five to six runs at making it a serious game in the second half, against a team that ‘had to win . . .” we were excited to see that we could dictate a Division I team into our style of play.”

The Missionaries face Portland Bible College in their home opener Friday, Nov. 20, in the first round of the Walla Walla Vineyard Inn/Bon Appétit Classic.

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