FOREST GROVE, Ore. - On a night where the three pointers weren't falling, the Blues drove to the hoop and showcased a presence in the paint. Equaling a season-low eight three-pointers, the No. 3 Whitman College men's basketball team shot a near season-high 55% from the field in a 108-77 win at Pacific (Ore.) in Northwest Conference action, Saturday night at Stoller Gym.
The game and win caps an arduous January road schedule and sets the stage for Tuesday's home matchup against No. 5 Whitworth in a showdown of national heavyweights. Hewitt led the way for the Blues (18-1, 10-0 NWC) with 15 points on 6-12 shooting with Jaron Kirkley nearing his season-high points total with 14.
The Blues scored 40 more points in the paint (62-22) than the Boxers and, while the two teams canceled each other out both with 19 turnovers, it was Whitman who made them count to the tune of a 35-21 points off turnovers advantage.
For Pacific (8-11, 2-8 NWC), Marcus Wallace dropped a game-high 22 points with Gage Shelmidine adding 17 points off the bench.
The Blues, the league's lone undefeated team, led by double digits for a good portion of the first half but were never able to shake the Boxers. They carried a 46-33 lead into the break, a point total well below their season average.
That all changed in the second half as Whitman put 62 points on the board and led by as many as 33 points in racing away with the win. In just over two minutes into the half, the 13-point Whitman lead swelled to 24. Back-to-back Hewitt three pointers spearheaded an 11-0 run as the Blues took a 57-33 lead just 2:17 into the period.
The three-point shooting of Chris Kobayashi stemmed the tide for the Boxers and later, a three pointer and layup from Shelmidine shaved the Whitman lead to 16 points. That proved to be fools gold as Austin Butler threw down a pair of rim-shaking dunks and, coupled with a Darne Duckett layup, pushed the lead back north of 20 points with 12:10 to play.
Butler, one day after joining the 1000-point club, finished the game with 10 points on 5-6 shooting with Duckett adding 12 points and equaling Robert Colton with a team-high six rebounds. The six boards were also a season best for Duckett.
After playing away from the Sherwood Center for nearly all of January, the Blues open up a four-game homestand beginning with the aforementioned showdown with the Pirates on Tuesday, Jan. 29. Tip is set for 8:00 p.m.