SPOKANE, Wash. - Outscoring Whitworth 17-0 over the final 5:41 of the game, Whitman defeated the top-ranked Pirate men 82-79 on Tuesday night in Sherwood Center.
Whitworth (23-1 overall, 14-1 NWC) suffered its first loss of the season and lost its first Northwest Conference regular season game in its last 35 contests.
The Missionaries (18-6, 11-4), in the midst of their best season in 20 years, ended a 23-game losing streak to Whitworth that dated back to 1999.
The Pirates led virtually the entire way. After Whitman pulled within 35-34 following two free throws by Brandon Shaw, Whitworth closed the first half on a 17-7 run. Michael Taylor (Brewster) scored 21 points in the first half for the Bucs, making 7-8 from the field (5-6 from three-point range).
Whitworth quickly stretched the lead in the second half. Back to back three-pointers by Wade Gebbers gave the Pirates a 66-45 lead with 16 minutes to play. It was Whitworth's largest lead of the game. Though Whitman stemmed the tide and had pulled closer, the Pirates still led 79-65 with 5:41 to play following a pair of free throws be Felix Friedt.
But Whitworth would not score again. Josh Duckworth hit two three-pointers and Ignas Pavilonis drained another to help the Missionaries rally to tie the game with just over a minute to play. Clay Gebbers could not make either of two free throws on the Pirates' next possession and Whitman hit 3-4 free throws in the final 40 seconds for the final margin. A last-ditch shot by Friedt to tie the game was no good.
Whitworth, the best shooting team in the NWC, missed its final eight shots and two free throws in the final 5:41. The Pirates finished with a 33.3% shooting percentage in the half, 42% (26-60) for the game. Whitman also took advantage of a 43-30 rebounding advantage over Whitworth.
Taylor finished with 30 points, while Wade Gebbers had 19 points and six assists. No other Pirate reached double figures.
Duckworth came off of the bench for 24 points and eight rebounds to lead Whitman in both. Shaw had 18 points and Justin Artis scored 12 points.
Both teams will finish the regular season at Pacific (Ore.) this weekend. Whitman plays the Boxers on Friday and will clinch the #2 seed in the NWC tournament with a win. Whitworth plays Pacific on Saturday with a chance to set the school record for most victories in the regular season. The Pirates have already clinched the NWC title and the top seed in the conference tournament.