Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman Sports Blog: Electric weekend of basketball

Electric crowds at Sherwood Center certainly got their money’s worth this past weekend, as the Whitman men’s and women’s basketball teams fought with everything they had against conference foes PLU and UPS.

Credit: Halley McCormick

Both teams of Missionaries had their moments to shine: stifling defense, jaw-dropping baskets and all-out hustle thoroughly entertained the packed stands of students and Walla Walla community members alike.

With only six games to play before the start of the Northwest Conference tournament Feb. 23 and 25, the Whitman men and women entered the weekend tied for second and tied for third place, respectively, in conference. Somewhat fittingly, the men took on the two other teams sitting in the logjam for second place, PLU and UPS, while the women were tied with the Loggers at 6-4.

The Whit women kicked off the weekend in style. Defense, which was the name of the game both nights, was on display early and often Friday evening as the Missionaries held the Lutes to a season-low 42 points in a 62-42 victory.

“Defensively, we just took PLU out of their game completely,” said coach Michelle Ferenz. “We held them to 42 points, which is a low for them this season. [Last] Saturday PLU scored 87 point and beat Whitworth in OT.”

Continuing the trend Saturday, Whitman spent over 30 minutes shutting down one of the best shooting teams in the conference. Trailing by 16 midway through the second half, the Loggers went on a late run highlighted by six three-point field goals to pull within three points (55-52) with less than four minutes to play.

“[UPS] can (and did) make a run at anytime because they really can shoot the three,” said Ferenz. “We did a great job for most of the game getting out on their shooters and they didn’t get a lot of open looks.”

After seeing the Whitman lead shrink all the way down to three points, guard Jenele Peterson hit a three from the right wing. UPS drew within four after sophomore Jocelyn Riordan hit one of two free throws with 1:22 remaining.

That was as close as the Loggers would get, however, as Jenele Peterson and junior Kelly Peterson (no relation) rounded out the scoring for Whitman with a three by Kelly and four free throws between the two players.

Senior forward Anna Forge did her fair share in keeping UPS at bay: with just over a minute to play, the Loggers got four looks on one trip down the floor to make it a two-possession game but Forge stepped in on the final attempt to emphatically block the UPS shot into the stands.

Credit: Halley McCormick

Forge’s block gives her 20 on the season, just two behind team leader sophomore Meghan White.

Jenele Peterson put up huge numbers on the weekend, finishing with a total of 31 points and 12 assists in directing the Missionary offense to a weekend sweep.

Since the first of the year, the Missionaries have won nine of 11 games, with the only two losses coming last weekend on the road against undefeated George Fox University and in overtime against Lewis & Clark College.

The Whitman women hold sole possession of third place in the NWC with four games remaining.

Whitman’s men took to the floor at George Ball Court looking for a pair of wins to separate themselves from the second-place logjam and maintain contact with first-place Whitworth University. The Pirates entered the weekend two games ahead of Whitman in the standings, with one game left to play between the Eastern Washington rivals (Feb. 14 in Walla Walla).

Friday night against PLU was a game of rallies. Whitman took an eight-point lead on sophomore forward Ben Eisenhardt’s old-fashioned three-point play with eight minutes remaining in the first half, its largest lead of the game. The Lutes then rallied to outscore the Missionaries by 10 the rest of the way and went into halftime with a 41-39 lead.

Credit: Halley McCormick

With under six minutes to play in the second half, PLU’s Cameron Schilling hit a three to give the Lutes its largest lead, 63-55. That is when the winning Whitman rally began, fueled by tough defense.

“The huddles were focused and intense and we made sure we were all on the same page each play,” said senior forward David Michaels. “[Coach Bridgeland] told us that we needed to lock down on defense and limit PLU’s best shooters, and that we needed to keep being aggressive offensively by getting the best shots we could possibly get.”

And get aggressive offensively they did. Whitman finished the game on an 18-5 run to pull ahead of the Lutes and pull out a hard-earned 73-68 victory.

Michaels, who last week was named to the D3hoops.com national team of the week, poured in 30 points and nine rebounds, including three on the offensive glass. The senior also got the final Whitman rally going with a pair of free throws.

Credit: Halley McCormick

Whitman finally took the lead back with under two minutes to play when sophomore guard Josh Duckworth converted an offensive rebound into an acrobatic bucket while being fouled. After the free throw, Whitman took a 68-66 lead, which it would not relinquish.

UPS came to Sherwood Center Saturday night with Whitman looking to avenge a 68-63 loss in Tacoma in early January. The Loggers needed the win to keep pace with the Missionaries after falling to Whitworth by 19 points the previous night.

In a hard-fought game that saw neither team reach a double-digit advantage, Whitman had a chance to tie or take the lead on its final possession.

Tied at 64 with 31 seconds to play, UPS’s Riggs Yarbro hit a jumper to put the Loggers up two. After calling timeout, Whitman advanced the ball to front court with 29 seconds to play. The Missionaries got the look they wanted, but could not convert and UPS pulled out the win 66-64.

“With 29 seconds, we were trying to get into the gaps and get something good,” said Bridgeland. “With seven seconds left, we were pinned in the corner on the out of bounds play. [We] wanted to get it to [sophomore guard] Josh Duckworth and have David Michaels set a flat screen at the top versus the zone. We got the shot we wanted [Josh at the rim to tie], but it didn’t take the bounce we wanted.”

Putting the ball in Duckworth’s hands on the final possession made sense –– the sophomore had already hit two game-winning baskets as time expired this season –– but this time his shot rimmed off and the rebound went out-of-bounds off Whitman with 0.2 seconds remaining, all but sealing the win for the Loggers.

Credit: Halley McCormick

Michaels (16 points), Pavilonis (12) and Raher (10) led the Whitman scoring effort. Duckworth finished with eight points and six assists.

The Missionaries shot only 34 percent (21-62) for the game, while UPS hit nearly 50 percent of its shots (23-48).

And so concluded a hard-fought, high-energy weekend of basketball at Whitman, leaving both teams of Missionaries in position to qualify for the conference tournament. A sweep for the women gives them sole possession of third place, trailing second-place Lewis & Clark by two games. The men remain tied for second place, now with UPS and George Fox , and trail first-place Whitworth by three games.



Whitman takes to the road this weekend with games in Oregon against Pacific University and Linfield College before coming home to wrap up the regular season Tuesday Feb. 14 against Whitworth and Friday Feb. 17 against Willamette.


Senior Night

The Missionaries will honor a total of seven seniors prior to games against the Bearcats.


Notes, quotes and observations

  • After outrebounding PLU 43-35, Whitman soundly lost the rebounding battle 42-27 to UPS.
  • Senior Jenele Peterson’s 31 points on the weekend moves her from ninth to seventh place on Whitman’s all-time scoring list. The point guard as 1,136 points in her Whitman career, 530 points behind first-place Katie Rubenser ’94.
  • Michaels followed up his national recognition with 30 points on Friday but was held to just 16 points against UPS on 4-12 shooting.
  • With their victory over UPS, the Whit women claimed sole possession of third place. Both teams entered the contest with identical 7-4 conference records.
  • The Whit women swept the Tacoma schools on the season for the first time in over 15 years. The Northwest Conference joined the NCAA DIII in 1996.

Ferenz on the team’s weekend performance: “We really hang our hats on our defense and it showed this weekend.”

Ferenz on freshmen stepping up: “We have had some injuries and other players have stepped up and played well. Freshmen Heather Lovelace and Hallie Buse made great contributions this weekend. I am excited about how this team continues to get better.”

Forge on the team’s turnaround: “The turnaround this season is really the fact that as the season progresses we continue to get better from every game, which is really important during the conference schedule. Sometimes teams take a step backwards midway through conference and drop a couple games to teams they shouldn’t, and that has happened to us in the past. This year we continue to improve; we have yet to hit our plateau or our peak, and at this rate we will be playing some of our best basketball when it matters the most, which is the NWC tournament.”

Bridgeland on the team’s emotions following the victory over PLU: “A combination of happy to have made the comeback and gotten the ‘W’, coupled with, “We still have one [game] to go.”

Michaels on his national recognition: “I felt honored to receive recognition for such an award, because it feels good to see all the hard work pay off. But…I didn’t feel pressure [from the award] because I know that I am going into these battles with the support of my brothers, coaches, and the countless number of people involved with our program that give us strength everyday. So it is reassuring to be surrounded by such a great group of people on a daily basis.

Raher on the crowd: “The fan support this weekend was really great. It makes a huge difference to play in front of our home crowd, we feed off the energy they provide.”


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    Paige Posa '77Feb 8, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Nice coverage, including new photo angles.