Men’s Basketball Honors Seniors In Winning Fashion, Splits Last Two-Game Home Stand

Marah Alindogan

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With a crucial win in a two-game home series this weekend to lock up at least a number two seed going into the Northwest Conference playoffs, the Whitman men’s basketball team delivered in exciting fashion.

In their first game of the weekend, the Missionaries faced the George Fox University Bruins from Newberg, Ore. The Missionaries could not stop the Bruins as their impressive comeback effort fell short, losing 98-95.

With a lethargic first half, completely opposite of the aggressive playing style that the team prides itself on, the Missionaries found themselves down 24 points with five minutes left in the first half.  Senior guard LuQuam Thompson took matters into his own hands and provided the defensive and offensive spark that the team needed. After a couple of free throws and defensive stops, the team cut the deficit down to 15 at the end of the first half with the score 53-38.

In the second half, the Missionaries found their energy and outscored the Bruins by 12 points. After an offensive surge led by junior guard Matt Mounier, senior center Ben Eisenhardt and sophomore guard Tochi Oti, the Missionaries found themselves down only four points with less than two minutes left in the second half.

However, after a couple of Bruin free throws sealed the deal, the Missionaries had no fight left in them. Bruin AJ Grant led all scorers with 28 points. For the Missionaries, Eisenhardt led the team with 22 points and an 8-9 shooting record. Thompson also had an impressive offensive night with 16 points.

The next game provided a night-and-day contrast from the loss against George Fox. 

The next day, the Missionaries looked to sweep the season series with the Linfield College Wildcats. Most importantly, a victory would give the Missionaries a two-game lead for the second place seed in the NWC playoffs and a home-court advantage. The team did not disappoint, and they easily defeated the Wildcats, 91-63.

It was also an emotion-filled night as the team honored its seniors, LuQuam Thompson, Josh Duckworth and Ben Eisenhardt, in their last regular season home game of the season.

Sophomore guard Dominic Lippi, who scored 15 points, and Mounier, who scored 14 points, stimulated the Missionary offense. After a quick trio of three-pointers by Lippi, the Missionaries built a comfortable 12-point lead in the first half and never looked back.

A three-point basket by freshman guard Brock Wade late in the second half gave the Missionaries a 36-point lead against the Wildcats, which was their largest of the game.

The best part of the night, however, involved no play on the court. With two-and-a-half minutes left in the game, Head Men’s Basketball Coach Eric Bridgeland subbed out all three of his seniors and the crowd gave them a standing ovation they thoroughly deserved.

With senior night done and over with, the Missionaries still have several games in their future. They finish off the regular season with two away games at Whitworth University and Lewis & Clark College. The NWC playoffs begin Feb. 27, and the NCAA playoffs follow shortly thereafter.

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