WALLA WALLA, Wash. - Three weeks ago the Blues took down Whitworth on its home floor, now back at the comfy confines of the Sherwood Center, the surroundings were different but the results were the same.
Austin Butler and Joey Hewitt rose to the occasion, both turning in monster performances each with 24 points and, in the second meeting between two of the nation's elite, the No. 3 Whitman College men's basketball team took down rival and tenth-ranked Whitworth 110-98 in Northwest Conference action on Tuesday night.
Butler also thrived on the defensive end for the Blues (19-1, 11-0 NWC), recording three impressive blocks while grabbing six rebounds, tying him with Jack Stewart for team-high honors in that department. He also handed out a game-high six assists to boot and keep his squad with a firm grip on the top spot in the NWC as the league's lone unbeaten team.
Ben College scored a team-best 24 points (10-14) for the Bucs who drop their second straight and fall to 16-4 and 8-3 in league play. Kyle Roach scored 17 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out five assists.
The overall stats were more than in Whitman's favor. 27-7 in points off turnovers and 42-25 in fast break points told the tail of the Blues imposing their will on yet another opponent. This became no more evident than in the second half when Darne Duckett opened the period with back-to-back fast break buckets to quickly put the Blues up 17 points. Duckett would connect again before layups from Cedric Jacobs-Jones and Butler gave Whitman a 61-43 lead less than three minutes into the second half.
Whitworth would stay within striking distance when Kevin Crosno nailed a three pointer to shave the lead to 15 points with 14:36 to play. Roach would later connect from distance himself to cut the Blues lead to 14 points.
Trailing by as many as 20 points prior, the mountain would be too tall to climb for Whitworth against a well-disciplined Whitman team. Inside of seven minutes to play, Vickers spun baseline for a dunk then Butler brought the house down, taking a pass from Hewitt on the break and throwing down one of his patented stuffs.
College's three pointer cut the lead to 11 points with 4:44 to play, then a Roach bucket shaved it to eight with just over three minutes remaining. That would be as close as the Pirates would get though as Whitman coasted to the win.
The Blues return to action this Friday, Feb. 1 against Lewis & Clark. Tip at the Sherwood Center its set for 8:00 p.m.